When we first started we'd never employed anybody. We'd never run a business. We'd had long periods of sleepless nights so we could be quite mentally fuzzy during the day if we've been up all night with her daughter. So the prospects of taking on the role of being an employer was quite daunting and there wasn't actually a lot of advice around then because it was very new to everybody. But it's actually relatively straightforward and the first person we employed she came to us on interview.
She was about 25, quite tall, bleached blonde hair in dreadlocks and piercings, tattoos everywhere and she said “we always do a phone interview before we do a face-to-face interview”. She said on in the phone interview “Don't be shocked when you see me” and “I've been turned down for lots of jobs because of my appearance but I've got bleached blonde dreadlocks” and I said that I don't think that's going to be a problem because my daughter's got bright blue curly hair at the moment. So not an issue.
She was brilliant right from the outset and she actually helped us form the model of what we look for in the staff. So we don't look for qualifications. We don't look for training. In fact we tend, if anything, to avoid people who've had training within the social support sector because there can be lots of bad habits picked up in training unfortunately.
We had - actually this same woman - she works in a nursing home and she'd been given some training about trips and falls and one of the pieces of training she'd been given which actually nearly burst into tears as she was telling us was if you're very very close to the person and they look unsteady then it's fine to support them. But if you're more than arm's length from them step backwards and my wife and I was just horrified and trying to figure out what the implications of this were but it dawned on us that we were pretty sure the purpose is because if you're fairly close to a person and they fall and you actually get to the point of touching them, but you aren't able to save them, then because you've touched them you actually come under the insurance liability or the your employer comes on to future liability. So that's the sort of thing that makes us quite ambivalent about whether we take people on who have already been trained.