Each week we put the spotlight on one of our Product Partners so they can share their stories and inspiration behind their business. We will also be asking them a few questions around their challenges and successes.
This week we meet Nancy Farmer and Jessica Silver , friends since primary school 30 years ago, who recently took their entrepreneurial spirit to the next level by starting ElWell. A rather unique business offering however, very relevant in this ‘sandwich generation’ that we all finds ourselves in.
Their own experience in dealing with parents getting older, professionally and personally, led them to create this initiative that would go on to help hundreds of people; all trying to care for their elderly parents whilst trying to care for their own immediate family.
We are here to give you the answers to your questions as you support your older parents.
Jessica saw her mum care for her grandpa, helping him live at home until he passed away (at the grand old age of 94!). Whilst keeping him at home was the right decision, Jessica remembers her mum saying she wished she had somewhere to turn that could give her the answers for what her grandpa would need now, and also further down the track.
With a background in psychology and an active volunteer for The Samaritans charity, Jessica understands the value of care, compassion and clarity.
Nancy is a physiotherapist with 15 years’ experience. She was working for the NHS in the community, helping elderly people rehabilitate at home after leaving hospital (such as after hip operations and strokes). When she visited them, they were so eager to have someone present who could help them that they would ask questions over and above physiotherapy related.
Together, the penny dropped and we saw an opportunity to help people through the stresses of getting older. We understand that the sandwich generation are squeezed, and looking for answers so that they can best support their parents. We’re here to help with this.
We’re lifelong friends and always said that if we were to go into business with anyone, it would be with each other. We just needed the idea! The spark for that came about in 2018. Jessica’s grandpa had recently passed away. Her mum had been instrumental in helping him stay at home for his whole life, and whilst this was fantastic, it had been a real struggle to get the timely answers she wanted as his needs changed. At the same time, Nancy was an experienced NHS physiotherapist with a focus on elderly rehabilitation, building strength back up after a hospital stay. She could see real parallels between Jessica’s family situation and that of her patients. They, and their adult children wanted to know how to improve wellbeing as they got older. This was an area we were both passionate about and knew then that we wanted to focus our business here to help people.
2. What has been your biggest challenge to date and how did you overcome this?
As well as running the website, we also help elderly clients at home in Oxfordshire, improving their overall wellbeing with tailored physiotherapy, nutrition and admin sessions. Then Covid-19 struck, and suddenly our clients were in the vulnerable category. Some were more tech-savvy than others so we looked at a variety of remote ways we could help them. We’re so pleased to say that we’re in touch with all our existing clients and continue to help them during this time.
Getting feedback from clients or people online that we have helped is amazing and always makes us feel proud. We set up ElWell to help people feel more empowered at a time when it’s easy to feel out of control, and knowing we’re helping them navigate their way through this is just a great feeling.
To start a company, the most important thing is believing in your idea. Speak to people about it (every conversation can open a new door!) and listen to advice but ultimately you need to trust your gut instinct. Oh, and make sure you’ve got a great action list and record all the wins along the way!
I think it has to be “in the end you only regret the chances you didn’t take”. We both left dependable jobs to start the business, at a time when our personal lives were pretty busy too! But we’re so pleased we made the jump.
That has to be our online course on ‘helping your parents whilst maintaining your distance’. This year has knocked us all sideways hasn’t it and it poses so many new questions about how we can realistically support our older relatives when we can’t see them. This course is here to help people navigate this minefield. We look at ways to make their home safe from afar, tried and tested (and interesting!) ways to connect remotely and more. We really hope you find it useful.