Milton Keynes care provider, PJ Care, has been named ‘Diversity and Inclusion Champion of the Year’ in prestigious national awards which recognise the UK’s high-growth businesses and most outstanding entrepreneurs.
The Bletchley-based company, which provides care for people with progressive neurological conditions and acquired brain injuries, was also shortlisted in three other categories of the Growing Business awards: The Bridges Positive Impact Award, Employer of the Year and Family-Owned Business of the Year.
Now in its 21st year, PJ Care was founded in 2000 by former nurse, Jan Flawn CBE, who opened the Bluebirds care centre in Milton Keynes to offer age-appropriate care for people with young onset dementia. Now with a second site in the town and a third in Peterborough, the company is headed by her son, Neil Russell.
“We are thrilled to have won this award,” he said. “We started our drive for full equality, diversity and inclusion nearly 18 months ago. We knew it was going to be a long journey but the need to enable everyone to be the best they can be, wherever they were from or whatever their history was, far greater than any challenges we would face. We are only a short way into our journey but it’s wonderful to see that we are already being recognised for what we are doing.”
PJ Care established an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee in July 2020 to foster understanding, create equity and enable all of its staff and residents to reach their potential regardless of their cultural background, heritage, disability, gender or age.
The company employs close to 600 staff, which comprises 44 different nationalities. Senior managers have completed unconscious bias training and staff surveys have uncovered previously unheard histories, experiences and concerns.
“These surveys have been invaluable,” added Neil. “They’ve given us all food for thought and provided real insight into the size of the task and the challenges ahead.”
Among the initiative the company has launched in the last 18 months are a company-wide awareness campaign, an LGBTQI+ support group, English language training for those with English as a second language, recognition for cultural festivals and support for women during the menopause.
The company is an accredited Living Wage employer and was recently named one of the top 10 health and social care companies to work for in the ‘Best Companies’ rankings.
In awarding PJ Care the ‘Diversity and Inclusion Champion of the Year’ award, the judges commented; “PJ Care have successfully created an environment where their staff have the ability to thrive. They represent how companies should be.”