PLATF9RM at Hove Town Hall has already been open a month would you believe? The days have flown by, and we’ve been having a wonderful time welcoming members and getting settled in. Amongst the regular faces in our beautiful new space are the familiar ones of the brilliant VIDA team. Here we get cosy and nosy with Merina, Ema, Iona and Laura in their shiny new office to discuss their company and the amazing growth it has had in the last year.
So first off, what kind of company is VIDA, and what do you do?
M - So VIDA is not only a domiciliary care company, visiting and caring for people in their own homes, but we’re also a tech company. We decided to create the care company to prove the technology, which has been really successful.
What are your roles within the VIDA team?
M - In terms of roles I’m the registered care manager, so I’m responsible for all the regulated activity which is personal care in terms of CQC, which is the Care Quality Commission. I oversee the running of the whole branch and also ensure that everyone is trained, monitored correctly and keeping in line with all legislation. I also oversee the smooth running of the office, which is also part of Ema’s role.
E - Primarily I’m in Operations but I fill in when we don’t have a co-ordinator. That said, I’m also filling in where we don’t have recruiters, as well being in charge of and training the recruiters. In the operations role I make everything run smoothly, ensure I have everything prepared for the carers as well as making sure they are fully trained prior to seeing a client.
I - I’m fairly new so my role is a bit of everything! I help Merina, collate research, help with recruitment and feedback elements as well as customer service.
L - And I do the other things! Ha! I also help with recruitment, interviewing candidates and building up the social media element of the business.
M - We all help each other and do what we can.
So what is the technology aspect of VIDA then?
E - Essentially the technology has three parts, one part which is designed to make things easier and more efficient for the office, the second part is an app on the carers phone and the third which is currently in development, is a reciprocating app for the client or relatives phone. It’s about making the communication easier.
Right now we’re using an outsourced technology with three softwares which help us have clients in the system, carers in the system and the ability to plan things. What the VIDA tech will do is combine all three of these into one, which’ll obviously make everything easier for us.
It will also automatically match best suited carers to the client, in terms of what kind of care or support they require and where they are located for example.
VIDA has experienced incredible growth in the last year, can you talk us through that experience at PLATF9RM?
M - It’s been amazing! I was looking for an office in Brighton and Hove and actually I was a bit worn out the day I came to PLATF9RM because I’d seen so many offices. I had actually been in the building to view another office, and even left the lobby when I remembered about PLATF9RM and thought - oh I’d better go in and have a look.
As soon as I walked in I absolutely loved it, there was a great vibe, a really great atmosphere and really nice people doing lots of different things. The office space was beautiful and colourful, and it was comfortable and welcoming. The staff are absolutely brilliant!
We started off with a two-person office on Floor 6, which was great and suited our needs at the time, but because we have grown so quickly we then moved to a four-person office on Floor 5. In the back of my mind I always thought that we would come to Hove Town Hall, as we needed better parking facilities and to be more accessible for our carers. We’ve come here and it’s just fantastic, the atmosphere is brilliant and you really feel like you’re part of the community. I would really dislike to not be working in this environment. I would always want to be with PLATF9RM
How has moving to Hove Town Hall impacted your office?
E - We were really happy when we had moved into Floor 5 when it was just the two of us, it was airy and beautiful. However as soon as we filled all the desks it began to feel a bit crowded, so we knew we were looking for more space here. I really wanted natural light and this office really caught my eye. It was big and had so much natural light coming in, and I knew we were going to grow and needed space for the equipment we use in our training. We have room to grow here.
How has having a bigger team benefitted VIDA and the work you do?
M - I think it’s taken the pressure of myself and Ema - well mostly Ema! She wears every single hat within the company except for my job so having Laura and Iona here interning has really relieved the pressure. A lot of our work is based on supply and demand, so we have to supply the carers to meet the demand of the client. It’s just great because we’re growing, we can comfortably add members to the team.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
M - For me, it’s helping people when they’re in crisis. So often with our clients they don’t ask for help until they’re absolutely at the end of their tether, and the person or family is in crisis. Another thing that’s really great is that we work with people who are forward planning for the care, so they’ll start having us in earlier as they recognise that they may have been in crisis before and so we can help them and build an invaluable relationship before the crisis happens.
I - I really enjoy talking to the clients, when they are talking about how great it is and how they love their carers. It’s a rewarding feeling to know that all the hard work that is put in by everybody is really paying off and is making peoples lives easier. They feel a bond with their carer, it’s not just someone who rushes in and does their job then leaves, it’s more like a companion.
What’s in the pipeline in the foreseeable future for VIDA?
M - Part of my job is business development and I’m really interested in that aspect. We’re looking to open more offices along the coast, and further develop the business in the South. Also we’re in discussion for potentially opening a Birmingham office and perhaps one in Manchester as well, which we actually discussed with our co-founder last night.
Whether we keep the company as one big organisation or we actually franchise we don’t know yet, it’s all open for discussion. We’re a start up and we just like to go with the flow a bit as well as being hands on and looking to the future. It’s exciting!
How do you unwind after a long working week?
M - Stay in bed for the whole weekend! (Everyone laughs!) I sometimes go clay pigeon shooting or play golf…That’s SO middle aged!
E - I relax, stay in bed and sometimes I go bike riding with my husband.
M - On Friday night I’ll open a bottle of wine
I - Or gin!
M - There’s sometimes alcohol involved for the whole team apart from Ema!
For all of us heading into the dark days of Winter clinging on to our SAD lamps - what do you do cheer yourself up?
M - I go running along the seafront or go for a walk if I can.
L - Eat chocolate?
I - It’s always nice when you get home and see your friends and housemates and socialise and enjoy their company (one of whom is none other than our very own Jessica!)