With the support of family members, following a period where she looked after the health and rehabilitation of a close relative, Leicestershire-based business owner Sophia Dickinson took the decision to launch her Occupational Therapy business. We talked to her about her start-up journey and how NBV’s courses and business mentoring has helped her businesses progress.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your business?
Home Independence Occupational Therapy specialises in health and disability specialist equipment, adapting houses for disabled access and falls prevention, particularly when individuals are walking with walking aids, such as walking sticks or a walking frame.
Home Independence Occupational Therapy provides personalised assessments and step-by-step action planning, with a focus on maintaining independence at home, taking an individual’s health and disability into full consideration.
Knowledge and advice are provided to help clients and their loved ones to find the most suitable equipment, such as bathing equipment to help access in and out of the bath, or to help with getting on and off the settee.
The most suitable housing adaptations are considered such as grab rails and stair rails, to help clients to get around their home or decide the best layout for a level access shower room.
Falls are the most common reason people are admitted to the Accident and Emergency department. Specialist equipment, aids and adaptations can reduce the risk of falls thus, increasing confidence and enabling people to stay at home longer.
Our clients include people with a long term health condition or disability. Caregivers, daughters or sons, who want to find solutions for their ageing parents or relatives and housing associations requiring specialist advice to assess the suitability of existing stairlifts, to make the best use of their housing stock.
There has been a lot of interest from Occupational Therapists wishing to join the company and there is scope for employing staff and service expansion in the next year.
Why did you decide to start your own business, what was your background before this?
I qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2003 with a BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy degree and went on to work for the NHS for five years and social care for eleven years. In 2016, a close relation was diagnosed with cancer of the bowel, which led me to become their Occupational Therapist through necessity.
I co-ordinated their health and social care needs. I feel privileged to have been their Occupational Therapist and to have been able to share my knowledge and expertise particularly with adaptations and equipment in the home.
This experience led me to see a gap in the market, and to recognise the impact of the shortage of independent Occupational Therapists in Leicestershire.
How did you find out about NBV’s support?
I shared my idea of starting my own company with my brother Sarfraz Ahmed, Careers Adviser, based at Leicester College, who quickly embraced the idea with lots of enthusiasm!
He recommended that I look into NBV and the services offered to new start-up businesses. He informed me that the services were free and that I had lots to gain by attending. I completed two courses, ‘Starting in Business’ and ‘Solving the Rubik’s – The Art and Science fo Business Planning’, both courses were hugely beneficial, they taught me the main factors involved in starting my own business. During the courses, ideas were shared in a collaborative manner with lots of healthy discussion between all present. I received lots of positive encouragement to pursue my business idea, which helped to increase my confidence and to become a company director.
How has the business mentoring support helped you?
Since starting my business, Gau Naik has been my business adviser. He has helped me by providing protected time to discuss my progress, maintaining objectivity and by reminding me to maintain a healthy focus on my own objectives.
Gau has helped me to navigate through the complexities of the business world and reminded me how well I was doing, with an established client-base after only a few weeks in business. Gau taught me clever and practical methods to find solutions. These ideas stem from his wealth of knowledge and expertise in the business arena.
I commend NBV for their vital role in nurturing the growth and success of my business and I fully recommend NBV services to individuals contemplating starting a business and for businesses looking for support to grow.
Did you meet any challenges on your start-up path?
The main challenge that I overcame is transitioning from being an employee to an employer and remembering that I am free to work flexibly in the best way that suits me!
I have found a renewed passion for my profession and the significant impact Occupational Therapy has on individuals and their family members.
What are your plans for the future?
I can see that Home Independence Occupational Therapy Ltd will continue to help new clients and will continue to receive significant positive feedback and warm referrals, which is the greatest achievement already!
I can see scope for service expansion and recruitment of a team in the upcoming year.
Do you have any tips or advice for others looking to start their own business?
Identify your personal objectives as a top priority believe in yourself and be patient, it will all come together if you wish it to be!
If you wish to follow in Sophia’s footsteps, contact NBV today to see how we can help your business grow: www.nbv.co.uk/register 0844 887 2568*
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