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‘Care industry is above energy sector for jobs’ says Lowestoft firm boss

PUBLISHED: 08:59 08 October 2014 | UPDATED: 16:21 08 October 2014

Daya Thayan and his wife Sumi with staff an anniversary party

Daya Thayan and his wife Sumi with staff an anniversary party

Archant

The care industry offers even brighter career opportunities in our region than the energy sector, insists one of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Daya Thayan, chief executive officer of Kingsley Healthcare, is proud of the fact that his first care home - Lilac Lodge in Oulton Broad - provided 30 full and part-time jobs in what was a jobless blackspot.

As the company this year celebrates its 15th anniversary, the number of homes has grown to 23 - 17 in East Anglia - and the staff has increased to more than 1,100.

First-year turnover of £370,000 has been elevated to £30m and the family-owned business has ambitious growth plans that belie the still sluggish economy. “We want to be one of the top providers in the country and are aiming to double the size of the business in the next three to five years and create jobs for another 600 people,” said Mr Thayan, 53, who arrived in England from Sri Lanka 30 years ago with his wife Sumi to qualify as an accountant.

His success as an entrepreneur has this month seen him chosen by the bank Santander to be one of the faces of a marketing campaign in national newspapers and on billboards.

Mr Thayan said the industry was still not seen as an attractive career path but the opportunities for progression were tremendous.

“Nationally, this is a £60bn industry and with demographics of an ageing population and increasing incidence of dementia - latest statistics show it will affect one in three people - we have got to prepare for tomorrow,” he said.

As a beacon of employment hope, the company’s new administrative headquarters in School Road, Lowestoft, stands symbolically behind the boarded up Sanyo factory, once one of the town’s biggest employers.

Mr Thayan built up and sold a prestige hotels group in the 1990s before choosing Lowestoft through family connections to launch his care home business.

He said: “I saw similarities between the hotel and healthcare industries because of their focus on customer care and resident care.

“We spent the next two years trying to understand what the industry was all about and asking ourselves, ‘how can we make a real difference in the way care is delivered to residents and how can we bring the hotel concept to bear in terms of service delivery’.

“If you are running a care home it must be good enough for your own parents to go there.

“I really like the idea of making a difference in someone’s life and making a difference is our motto.”

Mr Thayan said they had invested heavily in a staff training programme and identified dementia to be at the forefront of their care strategy.

“We have developed our own dementia programme, the Wings Programme, a person-centred approach with care planning tailored to the individual,” he said.

It involved mentoring and training for staff and support for families.

He said: “We don’t have a set template for our homes. Each one is an individual entity, part of the local community and serving that community. Our head office team provides the back office service.”

Mr Thayan, who has two teenage children, is proud that his homes have trained a lot of young people.

“We want them to be the managers of tomorrow,” he said.

That philosophy is mirrored in their recruitment policy, with the company taking on graduate trainees as well as apprentices.

“Our new intake of graduates from the local community has started on a two-year management development programme,” he said.

“My entire sales team has an average age of no more than 25.”

Future plans will see Kingsley Healthcare targeting growth in the south of England and in the Manchester/Cheshire area.

However, Mr Thayan, who has set up a charitable foundation helping children in the Third Word, is still looking for acquisitions in East Anglia and has just opened Downham Grange, a £6m purpose-built dementia nursing home in Downham Market, creating another 62 jobs.

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