1st Response is recognised as an Investor in People
A private care and medical services company whose commitment to the highest standards of customer service has helped it enjoy a record year is celebrating another milestone after being recognised as an Investor in People.

1st Response has demonstrated a clear commitment to training and development, providing its hard-working and dedicated staff with the skills needed to deliver a level of care that is second to none.

This commitment has seen the Exeter-based company which operates throughout Devon and Cornwall substantially increase turnover for its three distinct operations – 1st Response Care Services, 1st Response Medical Service and the Sage & Thyme Childcare services.

A measure of its continuing success came during one six-month period from August 2002 which saw 96.7 per cent of its work come from word-of-mouth referrals.

“We are delighted to be recognised as an Investor in People,” said co-owner and partner Martin Graham. “Our whole business hinges on our ability to care for other people and, for us, this starts with our staff. We are committed to providing the highest standard of care and that can only be achieved if we invest in our staff.”

1st Response was formed in 1996 by the husband and wife team of Martin and Kim Graham. Both have a wealth of experience, with Mrs Graham specialising in people management skills which enables her to carry out staff appraisals and reviews. Mr Graham, meanwhile, is a medical specialist who trains and assesses its private ambulance staff.

1st Response employs 150 people, which include its full-time office and medical staff and a network of agencies staff. The company was supported through the Investors in People process by Business Link for Devon and Cornwall.

Formed in 1996, 1st Response Care Service provides a wide range of home care and care in the community services, including hourly, day and 24-hour care for its elderly, physically and mental disabled clients. 1st Response Care Services also provides home help for anyone who needs it, including shopping, house cooking, as well as a 24-hour call out service. It also operates a highly successful agency service which enables it to offer short term and long term staffing solutions for nursing homes, residential homes and private individuals.

1st Response Medical Services, meanwhile, provides a wide range of ambulance services from its depots across Devon and Cornwall. This includes patient transport services as part of a local, national and European-wide network of private hire vehicles. It also provides ambulance cover for a variety of corporate, community and sporting events.
Sage & Thyme Childcare is the newest of the company’s services. Formed in 1998, it provides in-home childcare as well as temporary staff for nurseries across Devon and Cornwall. Sage & Thyme enjoyed a 20 per cent increase in its turnover last year alone.

The diverse nature of its work demands that 1st Response staff receive the best possible training and support, organised by and with the Grahams and their office manager Susan Dick. Indeed, staff training is a clear strength of the company and no expense spared to ensure that the individuals are developed by using an effective ‘training cycle’ to identify, plan, implement and evaluate personal development.

This has led to numerous in-house and external training programmes, including NVQs in customer care, care management and business administration, ITC development, health and safety. As well, the company has conducted a number of specialist training courses in defribulators, injury diagnosis, baby bottle feeding, manual handling, event planning and telephone techniques.

In recommending 1st Response for recognition as an Investor in People, Assessor Barry Rendal-Jones Still remarked: “The close-knit working relationship between partners and all staff is enhanced by the partners’ commitment, ‘hands-on’ behaviour, approachability and recognised skills. Crucially, recognising the diversity of roles (medical/ambulance, care support and childcare) and that most people work different hours mainly off-site, the partners have developed an effective communications system to keep all staff informed.”

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