When I am with colleagues presenting Five Good Friends, people will often say, “I can see there are three of you (or however many of us there are) where’s your fourth and fifth friend?”
I love that question.
It gives me the opportunity to explain the inspiration behind the name and why Five Good Friends exists.
Fundamentally, we think most organisations providing in-home care are asking the wrong the questions.
When we started Five Good Friends we could see the challenges the sector was facing. It has become task focused, driven by scheduling and hours. We wanted to ensure we designed a completely different service. One that people would love. One that truly had the customer and their family at the centre.
To do this, we started by asking a different question and built our customer experience, service and technology around the answer.
The question was, “why do people live wonderfully long, engaged and rich lives in the homes and communities they love?”
That question led us on a journey to the inspirational study, Blue Zones by Dan Beuttner (watch it here on TED). The study identified locations around the world where people regularly live vibrant lives in their homes and communities beyond 100 years of age.
As you would expect diet and exercise play a significant part, however, the study peered beyond nutrition and activity to examine the influence and effect of social and cultural constructs. It turns out that common to all Blue Zones is friendship or more precisely, the number of friends.
The longest living people (the bluest of the Blue Zones) come from a tiny prefecture in the south of Japan called Okinawa. People who live in this community, on average, will travel through life with between five and six good friends. Compare this to western societies where that number is between one and a half and three. As Dan Beuttner discovered “it is the stress shedding power and influence of friendships over our day to day lives that adds years to life and life to years”
We found inspiration in this insight and from that came the name, Five Good Friends. Our ambition is to ensure, first and foremost, our Members remain connected to and engaged with the friends, community and life they love. The inspiration goes beyond the name and into the provision and design of help and care.
For us, we start by understanding what is important to our Members. We understand what they want to keep doing, what brings them joy, who brings them happiness. We design the help plan and service delivery to take this into account, ensuring care is delivered when people want it, not when it is best for us. We also talk to our and Helpers and Members to understand the kind of people they would like to be with, what interests they share and what activities they enjoy. The relationship between the individual and carer is important. While we aren’t naïve enough to think we can create friendships, we do hope they evolve. The service is designed to have the same Helpers in the home each week enjoying the company of the member and the honour of caring.
While we are relatively new to the market, we are seeing wonderful results with very happy Members, families of Members and Helpers all inspired by a simple human truth. Friendships really matter. To us, they are everything.
If you would like to learn more about Five Good Friends or need some help in the home for you or a loved one, please call us on 1300 787 581 and talk to a Care Advisor. They will happily answer any questions you have, with no obligations at all.