When I launched Afea care services at 24, I had no idea of the depth of work ahead of me, or just how rewarding this industry could actually be.
I had struggled with depression in my early twenties and was finding it challenging to stay in work, in the space I was in. It wasn’t until I secured a job as a carer in a local nursing home that I found a sense of purpose through my work.
A lot of the elderly residents of the nursing home I was working with were in well enough health that they would have been able to continue living in the comfort of their homes, with a carer coming to visit for a few hours a day – they simply weren’t aware this was an option.
Recognising this opportunity to redefine the experiences of our ageing community, I set about launching a care business with a difference; a business that empowered people. My greatest priority was finding the best and most loving of care professionals to help deliver an unparalleled end-to-end care service that would ultimately touch the lives of many from our vulnerable communities.
Where Afea stands today
Today Afea has approximately 300 carers and delivers over 120,000 services each year! Servicing on average 500 aged and disability care clients each week, Afea is at the forefront of best practice in health, ongoing innovation and a truly customer centric experience. Providing a decade of care, with an average compounding growth rate of 100%, our Vision is to become the most trusted care provider in Australia.
We are an approved provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme and My Aged Care, programs that provide subsidized care for people in our community. Our clients either qualify for support under these Government schemes or pay privately for care. Afea Care Services empowers people to live their best life and continue living in the comfort of their own homes. We serve as an alternative form of care from a nursing home or hospital.
It is a tough and isolating experience running a business, but through the challenges I have faced and overcome, I’ve developed resilience and grown stronger and wiser over time. I followed my heart and intuition in most instances and have had the support of my father who was my sounding board and only mentor in the formative years.
Now ten years on, I can reflect on how much the business has grown, and how much I have grown personally with it. The greatest lessons I’ve learnt along the way are:
1. Look after yourself
When I launched Afea, I had been struggling with depression and feelings of self-worth. In pursuing my passion to care for others, I became resilient and learnt along the way to care for myself. Extending the same compassion to myself as I have always afforded others, allowed me to heal my emotional scars, and eventually overcome the depression. By focusing on how I could serve others, I found my purpose and realised the difference I could make.
2. Accept failures and accept the emotions that come with them
I was suffering from depression before I started the company and it took me a long time to recover from it. My experience and learnings are that we suppress our emotions and believe we have recovered from the events in our life.
Our natural response to failure, stress or rejection is denial. We deny those feelings that are negative by compensating our emotional bodies with alcohol, food, work or retail therapy and never actually working through or confronting how we truly ‘feel’.
I became a workaholic and was overeating – anything to distract from having to feel. I think we all have a tendency to this, where we try and block how we feel by seeking distractions. Anything possibly that can remove us from facing our feelings head on. The emotions actually never go away, they just build up until we start to see imbalances whether emotional or physically in our bodies like sickness and stress.
I think it is so important as leaders that we continue to work internally on ourselves, evolving ourselves as we do our businesses. For me that means spending time alone and evaluating how I feel. Am I centered, am I out of depth and how do I want to respond to this situation? Giving attention to our internal selves allows us to stay connected to our emotions, keeping them in check and leading to better mental health.
3. Find a place of mental stillness
In a world where everyone is rushing and being ‘too busy’ is worn like a badge of achievement, people forget to take time out when they need it. Rushed decisions are often not the best. I have found meditation has helped me stay in the eye of the hurricane as they say… that place of stillness when there is chaos that comes into life from growing a business.
4. Surround yourself with the best minds
Hiring the right staff and carers has been the greatest challenge as a business owner. A business is only as good as the people who drive it forward and the business is only as strong as the weakest link. By surrounding myself with intelligent, driven and compassionate people, the business has been able to flourish. Always surround yourself with the best people and those that can complete your weaknesses.
5. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
I am amazed at the number of examples where we have had to revert back to simplicity. Keep everything as simple as possible. Don’t create complicated reporting that consumes everyone’s time to fill out, don’t create too many KPIs that cannot be achieved, don’t create a policy or process if it makes the workflow clunky and slow.
Esha Oberoi is the Founder and CEO of Afea Care Services which empowers people to live their best life and continue living in the comfort of their own homes. Servicing on average 500 aged and disability care clients each week, Afea is at the forefront of best practice in health, ongoing innovation and a truly customer centric experience.