Helping people cope with life changing injuries and illness has been a life’s work for Julie Kendall - now her company has been recognised by Parliament. She talks to Neil Hudson
When Julie Kendall first received the invite to attend an annual event at the House of Commons - known as the Parliamentary Review - she thought it was a joke.
“I thought it was spam,” recalls the 51-year-old founder of Leeds-based Enable Therapy Services (ETS). “I am proud of the service we deliver to our clients, it is exceptional. However, I could not understand how we had come to the attention of the Parliamentary Review.”
She quickly realised, however, the email was genuine and that the company she set up in 2008 had been singled out for praise by MPs for its exemplary service.
“I was delighted,” enthuses Julie. “But I was intrigued as to how they found out about us and it turned out that one of the members of their research team had a relative supported by us and they sang our praises. I couldn’t have been happier.”
If you are still wondering what ETS does, then you’re probably not alone. Despite having been in business for a decade - they mark their tenth anniversary this year - it’s not the kind of company which tends to make the headlines.
ETS is what’s known as a case management company which specialises in helping people who have suffered life-altering injuries and illness. Their goal is to help them recover their independence and regain the quality of life they had before the incident and where possible return to work. They operate across the whole of the UK and Ireland and currently have 19 in-house case managers and a network of 150 occupational therapists dealing with around 300 clients.
Julie explains: “If someone sustains a life changing injury, as a result of a car accident or while at work, for example, the insurance company or the solicitors will call us. We have absolutely no involvement in the litigation side of things. Our focus is entirely upon the client, on making sure they have everything they need in order to recover and if possible get back to work.
“We’ve a very good track record in that respect too.”
ETS is effectively a one-stop shop for people who have suffered serious and life-changing injuries and illnesses, organising various aspects of aftercare, whether that’s physiotherapy, counselling, arranging for a wheelchair or even a prosthetic limb.
Perhaps the best way to describe what they do, however, comes from one of their former clients, Andy Penson, 51, who suffered a severe fracture of his tibia after falling from a ladder at work in 2011. Despite two years of treatment, he ended up having to have the limb amputated below the knee. He could not praise them enough: “It’s like having your best friend over your shoulder whenever you have to deal with anything. They bent over backwards for me. I was so impressed I drove all the way from my home in Essex to thank them personally and give them a hug.”
Another person who can testify to their quality of service is Ian Tasker, from Selby. The 36-year-old father-of-one had his right hand crushed in a machine at work and was left devastated.
“I think you go to some pretty dark places when something like that happens,” admits Ian. “My hand was useless, I didn’t really know what to do or what would come next but ETS were brilliant, sorting out physio, arranging for me to go on a forklift truck course to gain new skills. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I would have got back to work.”
Born and bred in Leeds, Julie grew up in Alwoodley. She has two daughters and is married to husband Steve. You might say caring runs in her family. Her father worked as a dentist, her mother a dental nurse, her elder brother is a podiatrist, while her sister is a beauty therapist.
“My family does seem to be very focussed on caring for other people. When I first went to university, it was to study dietetics at Manchester but I changed my mind when I heard about occupational therapy.”
She also managed to land a job as the first assistant occupational therapist at St James’s Hospital.
“I did for a year before starting my university course at Newcastle Polytechnic,” says Julie. “But the way I got it, it wouldn’t happen today. I phoned them up and somehow managed to find out who the head person was and by coincidence they had just advertised for their very first assistant. The deadline had gone but they asked me to come down anyway and I got the job.”
After university, she went back to St James’s, working as an occupational therapist in the NHS for 21 years, before she had the idea to start her own company.
“It came about by chance,” she explains. “I was asked to do a report for a private company, which I did and after that I ended up doing some more and that got me thinking about how that market operated. So I learned everything I could and set the company up in my kitchen. My first two employees - who are still with me today - were Ixchiel Wilson and Kerry Lyons but the company has gone from strength to strength.
“Because we only employ occupational therapists, we are able to offer a unique service to clients, as we do not duplicate assessments. This not only benefits the client but it streamlines the process for solicitors and insurance companies.
“Our primary concern, though, it always the client: considering their needs, because severe injuries can have a huge impact on someone’s social life, on their families and their ability to earn money and so on.”
Liz Moyles, business development coordinator and human resources manager, adds: “We believe occupational therapists are the best people to do case management. It’s something call the bio-psycho-social model, which considers all aspects of a person’s life against the backdrop of the injury or illness a person has sustained. We organise everything, from booking taxis for people, getting shopping for them, MRI scans, carers, maybe they need their garden doing. Most of the time we work with the NHS - we see them as our partners - but if we think a case needs expediting to speed up a client’s recovery, then we can recommend using the private sector.”
On March 5, Julie and Ixchiel will attend a gala dinner hosted to celebrate and recognise companies demonstrating best practice within private health care at the Houses of Parliament as part of the annual Parliamentary Review.
Julie adds: “I have to say coming to work is never a chore for me. It’s a lovely position to be in . We are in this business where you can make such a huge difference to people’s lives. We often deal with very traumatic cases, sometimes involving young adults, but our aim is to ensure they receive the most timely and the best standard of care we possibly can deliver whilst putting them at the centre of everything.”
Enable Therapy Services operates across the UK and Ireland and supports the rehabilitation of people with life altering injuries and illnesses, helping fast track their recovery
The Leeds-based company, founded 10 years ago, has been singled out for best practice as part of the annual Parliamentary Review
Email: Julie Kendall at email@example.com
Phone: 0113 273 3638