The role of the helper has been crucial to the success of business in the Cayman Islands, providing baby-sitting services for working mums and dads and cleaning and laundry services for executives too busy running their careers to run their households. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull sits down with Darlene Ebanks, known to many simply as Miss Darlene, who runs Best Home Care Agency, a stalwart in the business of help, and reports.
Darlene Ebanks started Best Home care Agency back in 1988 in response to Cayman’s burgeoning professional sector that was growing larger day by day. She says:
“The need was there and the time had come to get better working conditions for helpers and to give clients trained staff as housekeepers and babysitters.”
Over the years her business grew, mostly, she says, via referrals from clients delighted with the professional services that her ladies provided, as well as callers who had seen her advertisements in various publications.
Focusing on the two core services of housekeeping and babysitting, Miss Darlene now has a thriving business with 20 staff from a wide variety of countries, including Caymanian office workers, as well as wonderful housekeepers and babysitters from Jamaica, Honduras, Guyana and Nicaragua. But having a diverse workforce is not without its issues.
“The staff are far from home and I care when they have family problems at home,” Miss Darlene says. “But most times they can cope. It is all about caring for the staff needs, being kind and understanding. Above all, I try to keep them happy in order for them to do a good job for clients.”
Miss Darlene says that her ladies are all hard working and committed to their occupation.
“My ladies always provide an exceptional level of service,” she says.
“They are nearly all mothers themselves and so also show tremendous care and attention to their little charges when they are called upon for their babysitting services. I have had clients who have used our services over a number of years and the helpers eventually become much loved and integral to the family unit.”
Miss Darlene says that with so many professional families on Island hailing from other parts of the world, their extended families are often many hundreds if not thousands of miles away, so being able to enjoy the services of such a trusted individual has been of great importance to these families.
“I really see my service as a very important part of the business community here in Cayman” she confirms.
Miss Darlene says that business has been affected by the recession. “Business has slowed down due to clients being laid off from their jobs or the client leaving the island altogether and having to cancel the services,” she confirms. “Like everyone else on the Island I hope that the situation will improve soon for all of us.”