Decade of caring is paying dividends for Falkirk firm

Mark and Helen Smith of Montana Home Care Ltd which celebrates its 10th anniversary next month''PICTURE: Michael Gillen (140783)
Mark and Helen Smith of Montana Home Care Ltd which celebrates its 10th anniversary next month''PICTURE: Michael Gillen (140783)

To last in business for 10 years nowadays is a considerable achievement but to more than treble your workforce could be considered remarkable.

But that’s exactly what the team at Montana Home Care Ltd has accomplished since setting up on May 4, 2004.

Providing care services is an ever-growing industry as the elderly population spirals and the government puts an emphasis on keeping people out of hospitals and residential care, and living independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

A family-run business to the core, it was started by Helen Smith and her sister Heather Bradley in the back bedroom of their parent’s home in Fairlie Street, Camelon.

However, Heather has now left to look after her daughter and Helen has been joined by husband Mark who, with 24 years experience as a banker, uses his management skills to look after the admin and legal side of the business.

“I’ve worked in the care industry all my life, as have most of my family,” said Helen (46). “I started as a 16-year-old at the RSNH in Larbert. My mum was a nurse at Bellsdyke and both my sisters worked at RSNH. I was there for 12 years but got an injury which meant I had to give up the job.

“I opened Bradley’s restaurant in Falkirk and ran that for a while but my heart was always in the care profession. But working for other people wasn’t for me: the emphasis was on how many people you could see in an hour rather than the standard of service you could provide.

“That’s why we decided to set up on our own. But we never envisaged it would grow so much. For the first few years we had 14-20 staff but now we employ 60, mostly from Falkirk district. We are looking to expand and hope to take that number to 100.”

Last November, their efforts were recognised when they were highly commended in the Best Large Business category at The Falkirk Herald Business Awards.

Mark (45) said: “We recently sent a questionnaire to all our clients and feedback said what they were looking for from our staff was respect, friendliness, a happy disposition and someone they could have a chat with. We like to think that is what our staff give them.”

They also take on board staff comments and changed the rota system to ensure there were weekends off.

Helen added that the secret was being able to “read” a client. “The majority of our staff have no experience when they come to us but a lot of the success of our company is due to committed staff who genuinely care about the clients and strive to provide high levels of care.”

Most employees are aged 25-35, but some are as young as 18.

“Our staff all wear uniforms – burgundy while in training and white when trained – and have all had the necessary disclosure checks carried out,” said Helen.

Montanta – the name comes from a retired racehorse Helen’s mum used to own – pride themselves on the level of training they provide, mainly in-house at their base in Grahams Road, Falkirk. But they recently spent £10,000 with an external provider.

Helen added: “That’s a lot of money for a small company, but as well as training our staff we also think it is important to look after them and hold regularly pamper days when they can get manicures and facials. We even have some of our clients coming along.

“We believe if we look after our staff they will help us give clients the best possible care.”