Business Profile - Karen Perry, Alice Chilton In Home Care Services Ltd

Karen Perry

Karen Perry - Credit: Archant

Spend five minutes with Karen Perry and you’re left in no doubt that this is a strong, passionate and yet compassionate woman who is dedicated to using all her considerable skill and experience to not only create a successful business, but to change lives.

The business she has launched, alongside her husband, brother and sister-in-law, in named Alice Chilton, and there’s even a clearly thought out reason for that.

Karen lost her mother in her late twenties, a time when most of us are, thankfully, still trying to work out just exactly what we plan to do with our lives. Following her loss, Karen not only continued building a successful career in global marketing and events, but volunteered with Age Concern. This was due to a realisation that we’re not perhaps as good as we could be at caring for the elderly and vulnerable in our communities.

Karen says: ‘My husband and I reached a point where we knew that if we ever wanted to step back and re-evaluate our lives, change direction if we chose, then it was now – this was the time. So we bought a property in France, left our jobs and moved there. Like many others, we renovated a property and ran holiday gites. It was so far away from our previous roles we were given the opportunity to really look at our lives and what we wanted to do with them.

‘In 2013 we came back for a visit in December, and I fell into conversation with my brother, who worked in the at-home care industry. We of course discussed the recent care scandals and he told me about the challenges carers faced.

‘On my way home I said to my husband that I wanted to establish a business that not only offered superior at-home care to the elderly, but offered superior employment to those who do the caring. There are many, many wonderful people out there doing an amazing job and those who do it well should be recognised and rewarded.

‘It’s a very big thing for an elderly person to finally recognise that they need help with living independently. It impacts their pride, their dignity and their entire sense of self. To go from independent living to realising you can’t quite manage anymore, and then to let a stranger into your home…these aren’t small things and shouldn’t be handled by people who really don’t care and aren’t paid a respectful wage themselves for doing a job where respect is due.

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Karen’s passion for her new business is apparent in every word she utters.

‘I want to make Alice Chilton a company that people want to join, a business they feel proud to work for. Training, recognition and reward all form a part of the way we look after our staff. We aim to be the benchmark for all similar businesses and hope that this will drive change in the whole industry.

‘However, there needs to be a social and political sea-change before I think this will happen. The NHS and Local Authority budgets are spread so thinly. Finding a way to fund excellent in-home care would actually save funds, as it’s cheaper than a residential care-home for people who are still mostly independent.’

‘I know that Alice Chilton will be a success. But for me the greatest success will come when we achieve a fundamental change in the way we view and care for the elderly.’