HC-One was formed in 2011 following the collapse of the UK’s then-largest nursing home operator, Southern Cross Healthcare. Entrepreneur Chai Patel, a doctor and former Chief Executive of Priory Group took over the failing homes, created the HC One brand and set about on a journey from turnaround to transformation. Our challenge 6 years on was to take this brand to the next level, to create something transformational to attract new Residents and Colleagues.
Our Strategy: Become The Kind Care Company
We saw an opportunity to create a new kind of care company, one that that looked and behaved differently, that could transform the sector by being values led. In a world of complex institutional language, we championed the humanity in care and imagined kindness as a simple uncomplicated ethos that would be a positive beacon for Residents and Colleagues alike. Our thinking went beyond brand to the way the company operated. For this to be authentic and genuinely life-changing we had to lead with purpose and build HC One, The Kind Care Company from the inside out. Beyond the brand identity we’ve helped our client’s to embed kindness deeply into the way that Residents and colleagues experience the brand.
Brand as beacon of positivity
Our new brand identity with its big orange dot is a ‘beacon of positivity’ highlighting the kindness in every little action. We created hand painted ink illustrations, and hand drawn typography to bring humanity and warmth.
We also developed a sensory colour palette and an updated photography style to capture in a beautifully authentic way the life in our homes.
At the same time, we redefined the brand architecture to allow the national brand to deliver a local experience. Nobody buys corporate care, they buy local care so we flipped the hierarchy to lead with home name and supporting line, ‘Belonging to the Kind Care Company family of care homes’. This also fed our thinking on how to embed the brand locally, considering how with flexibility we might employ more local people, and allow for local purchasing within a national procurement program.
“Kindness is everything”
Working side by side with the HC One CEO and core management team we set out to create a blueprint for ‘The Kind Care Company’. We asked, ‘What does kindness sound like, look like, how does it behave, what services does it offer?” Then we worked with teams from across the HC One business to align every aspect of the way the company behaved internally and externally.
Together we created a set of new behaviours and kindness principles that are being embedded operationally, and help with the key issue of Colleague attraction and retention.
We used the new brand identity as a vehicle for improving the relationship between Residents and Colleagues, actively designing moments of connection of genuine conversation into the experience. Carers’ badges carry unexpected facts about them – ‘Rachel, Champion Knitter’ is stopped so often in the hallway to ask about her knitting, that now she carries her knitting around in her bag to pull out discuss and share with them.
The role of storytelling
We understood from talking to Residents’ families that choosing a care home is too often an overwhelming experience and that when confronted with too much information in the end they relied on their senses and whether a home ‘felt right’. This inspired us to break with tradition and commission a fantastic author to spend time in the homes, chatting to Residents and eventually developing a book of stories that could be used to demonstrate our care in action. It was a case of show don’t tell.
At the same time we challenged the institutional jargon that dominates in this sector and developed a new, simple, humanised tone. The tone makes everyone feel welcome and at home, and removes the ‘them and us’ barrier. We then worked with the HC One team to re-name care packages such as ‘Intermediate Rehabilitation Care with ‘Back on your Feet’ and ‘Respite’ to ‘A little break’
Designing a kind care experience
With kindness as our simple guide we designed a new brand experience bringing that to life in every touchpoint from the choice of music playing in homes to the books available in receptions, even the soap in the toilets and the names of the communal rooms.
Visit an HC One care home today and you will find they get the little things right, like the welcome experience, and bright, fresh flowers in reception.
We re-imagined the experience of the company brochure, making it less a catalogue of rational facts about complex care programs, and instead a book of beautifully crafted little stories that illustrated the kind care in action. Families experiencing a moment of crisis and looking for simple reassurance tell us “it just felt right’.
Done well the role of the Activities Co-ordinators makes a real difference to the older peoples’ happiness, so we reimagined the scope for the role as ‘Wellbeing Co-ordinator’. In this role Colleagues were inspired to think of enriching the Residents mind body and soul.
Beyond that we are continuing to explore ways to create genuine connections between Residents and Colleagues and to improve the home experience – making it great place to live and a great place to work.