The Business of Healthcare: An interview with Issac Theophilos
Updated: Nov 13, 2019
I met Issac when he was a care home manager while we were both doing our MBA in Leadership Management in Healthcare.
He took some time out when his first daughter came along and we thought he wouldn’t finish the qualification, but, a year later, he did it!
During our lectures Issac was quiet and thoughtful but, when he had a point to make and share, he was direct, passionate and confident. He really took the time to help us all better understand the care home sector.
Since completing his MBA, Isaac has founded Outstanding Care Homes, a consultancy that helps care homes improve their standards. He is also the author of How to Get Outstanding, a book which provides practical advice and inspiration to help care homes achieve ‘outstanding’ ratings in their inspections.
In this interview, we discussed how Issac works with care home managers on tight budgets and with limited time, to help them improve their service.
How long have you worked in the business of healthcare?
Issac: It’s been 10 years. I used to be a care home manager before I set up my own business. I had the same routine for a long time without any changes, which was difficult for me. Now I own my business, I have more creativity to be able to move on and do different things. Life is so exciting now!
Who are your customers and why do they come to you?
Issac: Currently my customers are organisations which run anywhere from one to five care homes.
The people who are running care homes can sometimes feel trapped in. They’re unable to see what’s happening around them and unable to gather all the expert knowledge.
When I go into a care home, I see things in a different way. Every care home has the same mission to provide the best care for the people they look after, but my role is to go in and align them to that track.
How do you promote your service?
Issac: My book has helped me a lot. That has really given me that authority to move into a consulting side. I’m also highly engaged in social media.
Which other stakeholders do you interact with day-to-day?
Issac: I work a lot with the NHS and national organisations. (At the time of this interview) I’m part of a project to improve the quality ratings of care homes in West Sussex. The stakeholders for that are Health Education England, The Care Association and some care home Quality Improvement Leads.
I also try to engage with care homes as much as possible and last week, I offered some free visits for any care homes rated as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ to see if they would like some support.
Tara: So you promote your service through social media and the book, and by offering a free consultation. How else do you spend your time?
Issac: It’s never a routine. Sometimes I travel. If it’s a typical working week, I go to a care home in the morning and spend the whole day there making observations, looking at all their documentation and then I give them feedback in the evening. I come back and do a report the next day and send it back to them. That’s my working style. It depends on what kind of project it is. Sometimes it’s an inspection, sometimes it’s an audit – it varies.
What are the top challenges that care homes face on a daily basis?
Issac: I think it’s a lack of money and time and, as is the case for lots of people, it’s hard for managers to switch off and reflect on what they are doing.
How do you help people work through that?
Issac: One-to-one sessions are really helpful. My role is to listen, advise and share guidance, but the responsibility lies with the manager. They are the ones to have make the change.
How do you use your MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare and what other training have you done?
Issac: I have a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership, which is a basic course before the MBA. I have a Degree in Nursing. I think the MBA has set the base for me. The learning I’ve done through the MBA and after the MBA was amazing. Including talking to you Tara – you’ve taught me several things especially your approach to mind-mapping. I also read a lot of books as well.
What skills do you think you need to improve on?
Issac: Quite a lot! I think expanding the business assets and the strategy around that. You don’t know what you don’t know so sometimes. I take reflective time – switch off everything and see where I’m going.
I also think I can read more books to identify and learn how I can improve.
How many care homes have you worked with and how long do these relationships last?
Issac: I have worked with probably around 15 or 16 care homes so far and see them on a quarterly basis.
You mentioned that care homes sometimes don’t have enough money, particularly the ones that need improvement. How do you persuade them to release the time or release the money to sit down with you?
Issac: I think that’s wasting a lot of energy and a lot of time for me to try to attract homes who don’t really know where they are going. I work with people who are ready to improve and have the resources to improve. Having an awareness to improve is the starting step to have my service.
In conclusion: finding time with your clients is key
The conversation with Issac really reminded me of how time-poor so many of our health and social care leaders are. I find the same is true in my own business and often I’m working with people who are being pulled in so many directions. It’s really important to find ways to communicate, know exactly what we’re aiming for and make sure that, whatever service I’m providing, it really does help to take the load off my clients.
Tara Humphrey is the founder of THC Primary Care, a leading healthcare consultancy specialising in workforce transformation and the only consultancy to have worked with 11 Training Hubs across South London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Tara and her team also work with GP federations supporting the implementation of clinical services.
Tara has over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sector and has an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, is published in the London Journal of Primary Care and is the author of over 100 blogs.