Tag Archives: careimages

Careimages, quick on the draw

Careimages is growing; month on month more people are visiting the site, registering and subscribing. And we’re reacting to what our clients want by doing new shoots. Next week, we are working on a shoot with a service user with mental health problems to portray the issues in his life; other shoots in the pipeline include vulnerable elderly at home and drug abuse.

We are very proud to launch a new and exciting aspect to the site in the form of illustrations. We have teamed up with a very talented painter/illustrator, David Fortune whose abstract work in his native Ireland is gaining critical acclaim. We gave David a brief to provide a range of illustrations depicting aspects of childhood along with concepts like fear and abuse. For a few of the sketches, such as the one on the left, he did a re-interpretation of a real-life photo that we already had. Not only does the stylisation often make an image like this more powerful, but it also offers flexibility in representing what can often be difficult subjects. We believe the illustrations we launch today reflect and represent our community and show art as powerful and emotive tools in helping us come to terms with our world.

We are looking for more ideas for our illustration category so please do tell us what you think and what you may like to see. if there are any specific illustrations you need, we would be pleased to arrange them as a custom service. For this or if you’d simply like advice as to how this type of art can be used in context with your publicity materials please contact us on 020 7254 1500 or by email to enquiries@careimages.com

Caring for your customers

It’s a truism in sales that it’s usually a lot more expensive to find new customers than it is to keep old ones. That’s why good customer service is so important. Yet it seems so many companies, especially large ones, forget this until an account closure is imminent.

circuit boardTo save their blushes, I won’t name them publicly, but I recently encountered atrocious support from our old hosting provider. To give the best service to you we run a dedicated server. For the past three years I’d been very happy with our setup. The server had been reliable and stable, the only downtime being during scheduled maintenance. Admittedly I hadn’t had to ask the company for anything much as everything just worked. However as our picture collection grew (over 11,000 pictures now) we were getting to the point where we needed a larger hard disk on the server.

I contacted the hosting company and was pleased to find that they would fit a new disk for a one-off charge. There was only one slight problem, our server, being an older model, was not compatible with the latest types of disks on the market. Would this be a problem I asked? Not at all was the reply, our engineers will sort everything out. So, a time for the upgrade was agreed (outside office hours so as not to disrupt normal business), and I backed everything up and notified everyone who needed to know.

The evening of the upgrade arrived, I arranged to work late, to make sure everything went smoothly. The time for the server to go offline arrived, but nothing happened. Instead I got an email from the hosting company’s engineer tasked with the work. “Unfortunately, your server is not compatible with the disks we use for upgrades”…

To cut a long story short, no upgrade happened. Instead there were weeks of exchanges between myself and the company’s sales department. They said I should go for a new server, I asked what deal they’d give me, no deal was offered. Communication was further complicated by the relevant salesman seemingly not having a full grasp of the technology he was selling. Eventually I’d had enough and looked at other providers in the market.

As things turned out, I was able to get a better server at a lower price than I’d been paying and I have no hesitation in naming our new providers as Poundhost.

The transition to the new server has been fully completed, with minimal disruption. Of course, our old company has recently started ringing the office trying to keep our business…

Be assured that if anyone has any service issues with Careimages we will strive to address the matter within one working day and usually much more quickly. Our customers matter to us.

Your chance to subscribe for free!

Paypal bannerThat’s right… if you subscribe anytime from now until the 20th of December 2009 and choose to pay by credit/debit card then you have a chance of winning back all the money you spend in a weekly draw hosted by our payment processor, Paypal.

In fact this applies to all payments made via Paypal, not just subscriptions. If you’re feeling lucky you could win back a payment of up to £5,000. So consider that company credit card instead of paying an invoice manually and you could be your finance director’s new best friend.

Full details can be found on the Paypal site at https://www.paypal-marketing.co.uk/campaigns/win/.

Not every picture tells a true story

What kind of image portrays care in the UK? I have seen hundreds of brochures from local authorities, charities and private providers of care which depict elderly and disabled people representing a different reality to what can be a very difficult ‘way of life’. Care represents many facets of life, but I doubt that what I call the ‘Florida’ look of older people that you find in some north American image libraries would resonate with an older person getting by on a pittance and living on the 18th floor of a dark, dismal inner-city high-rise block. And yes, it is true that some disabled people are hot at wheelchair basketball and tennis (and we have pictures of the latter on our library), but I would wager that for most disabled people in the UK, getting through the minutiae of life, washing, dressing, logistics takes up a lot of their time and energy.

Reaching for a drinkYes, we want positive images of disability, but we also want realistic images. People do not aspire to a lifestyle where they require care, rather it is a reality they are forced to come to terms with. And that can be very difficult. Imagine things you do in private (eg bathing) being carried out for you by a carer. Imagine having to be helped by a partner to engage in sexual activity. Imagine going to a restaurant where another person has to feed you. At Care Images, we show care as it is, real warts and all. When we work with an elderly model and ask the lady what she likes doing and she answers rather tamely that she likes a little tipple and she has a bottle hidden away, we shoot the scene. Our strapline is ‘representing the community’, and it’s surely the case that a bottle of gin is more accurate than a facelift in Florida.

Small ideas can make a big difference in Care Homes

The default style of brochures advertising care homes for the elderly usually involves a mission statement, philosophy of care, a commitment to giving people choice and dignity, three-star Michelin meals and an array of activities that would make a Chelsea socialite turn bright green.

Care home nurse and residentThe reality of course, can be very different even in the so-called better private facilities. I know quite a bit about care homes for the elderly; in my previous life as a social worker and commissioning manager I used to buy beds and conduct audits on out-of-borough placements. In the last few years in my work at a design company specialising in the care sector, Create Services, and more recently for Care Images I have been part of the other side of the service in trying to provide a positive image of care homes to potential purchasers.

Of course, all homes are equal under inspection law but some are more equal than others in what they provide. And it’s the little things that make the big difference; how much more is it on a home’s budget to add value to the product by serving wine at dinner or provide the football free through Sky Sports? One home we did a brochure for refurbished the basement into a specialist gymnasium for older people and an adjoining mini cinema with weekly screenings of golden oldies like Brief Encounter (one of my all time favourites).

Another home cut a deal with a local Blue Square Conference football team and took some of the residents to the home games; I saw a feature on TV news a few weeks ago with a drama group doing reminiscence therapy with residents. In short, there are plenty of creative ways to provide care without breaking too much into the profit margins.

Living in a care home may seem like the worst of all possible options but is living at home in the so-called ‘community’ that good if you are stuck in a high-rise flat unable to afford the heating while waiting for a less than appetising meals on wheels?

I have had the pleasure of working with some outstanding care homes both as purchaser and provider of marketing materials. As soon as you walk in you can feel that there is something special about the place; the staff are enjoying their work, residents are clearly content and maximising their abilities and purchasers, whether self or LA funded, are getting value for money. And you know what the interesting thing is; the homes I am talking about are not always the most plush, they just know how to care for people.