• Alex Pycock


That’s a pretty good word describing the HeadWindsCare ethos over its first two years. Having just celebrated that anniversary, I thought it was time to share a few personal reflections.

Anyone starting a business in adult social care consultancy these days needs either strong medication or a massive combination of self-belief and deep pockets. My two years has fortunately passed without the need for medication but has perhaps been compensated for by a healthy dose of cynicism and conservatism (but not the Mrs May variety).

HeadWindsCare year two has seen turnover increase by 50% whilst the number of clients has steadily increased. The BIG story was inspecting 82 care homes in 2018. That took some tyre rubber but was a fantastic experience and hugely enjoyable. Clients ranged from sole traders to a PE backed mid corporate.

Mistakes made over the last 24 months - a few. Biggest has been without a doubt in IT – having to switch email address and websites due to an IT consultant encountered who simply wasn’t. Next was sticking to the belief that traditional trade journal adverts work- they don’t! What works in 2019 are websites (only with SEO and then with a huge emphasis on optimisation), LinkedIn, carehome.co.uk and good old-fashioned targeted marketing. Simples? Yes, but an expensive and lengthy learning curve.

Marketing is a key factor in any business success I often say that it’s like standing on the stage at the London Palladium with a packed audience out front. The lines are well rehearsed, the PowerPoint is on turbo and the audience is keen to hear the message. Great, except the guy with my shilling in his pocket for the meter has disappeared to the bar. Result – the lights, microphones and my hopes are all switched off. So, failure and frustration whilst the guy at the bar enjoys his half of Double Diamond with my shilling, which has to be the most expensive round ever. The moral? We all need to be ‘switched on’ and understand the valuable contribution of the seemingly least important person.

Identifying and articulating our USP was far from straight forward. HeadWindsCare as a Leicestershire start-up boutique healthcare consultancy simply had to get a stronger message over than a multimillion nationwide consultancy business with years of trading under its belt. With the ambition button firmly switched on, HeadWindsCare is getting there with a great website and a USP that encompasses 28 years in the sector covering all bases – operational, financial/commercial, management etc. A 360-degree coverage is what we do and is the USP. Many operators (and care professionals) only think ‘clinical turnaround’ when CQC strikes. Our belief is that this is only a 90-degree coverage. A true 360-degree coverage resolves not only the regulatory/clinical problems but also pre-empts the imminent commercial and financial fallout, identifies and fixes management failures and fills the governance gaps. Strong relationships with some of the best sector legal, accountancy and banking professionals are also in the tool kit. Our DNA, developed from 28 years care sector experience, has created our USP.

Also, what I have found interesting is how our competitors fall in to three camps. Some are great people, high on camaraderie who are very happy to swap ideas and encourage lateral thinking. Secondly there is the ‘silent majority’ who you never hear from. And, finally there are the minority who happily ignore the competition, live the ‘celebrity consultant lifestyle’, comment on everything and pop up in every conference photo-call.

My Sheffield upbringing has rubbed off with a rolled-up sleeves (literally) mentality of getting an honest day’s work done and creating lasting professional relationships via a value for money service.

Let’s not forget either the HeadWindsCare nurse team who have worked very hard to resolve many difficult client issues and back-office Jane who has been very busy carving out our marketing identity. So HeadWindsCare two-year anniversary is very much a shared celebration.

What are we up to in Year three? We are shortly launching an innovative and discrete support package for smaller operators that delivers a range of clinical, operational and commercial services (which can be upgraded), with modest payments spread over 12 months. For all operators, especially small/mid corporates, we are about to launch a Performance Improvement service that uses a range of analysis methods and tools. The output is a report that identifies the status/position of the target care home/group with costed improvement opportunities that could accrue with various changes, both large and small. More details in about 4-6 weeks.

Exciting times ahead over the next 12 months.

Remember: Think healthcare, think 360 degrees, think HeadWindsCare. Cheers!

Bryan Higgins

E: bryan@headwinds.care