Operating a care home in the current climate has probably never been tougher.
New legislation, tougher inspection regimes and the detrimental effects of bad media coverage of the ‘bad apples’ have taken their toll. Margins have been greatly squeezed as local authority spending on care for the elderly has come under enormous pressure.
There are currently more than 20,000 care homes in this country – ranging from some big players running several hundred homes to the individual operator with just one or perhaps two homes to his name.
Contrary to some thinking, care homes do not enjoy full occupancy. Many care homes will be happy with an occupancy level of around 90 per cent. And yet we hear so many stories of hospitals where beds are taken up by the old and frail simply because they have nowhere else to go or have no one to look after them.
Care home operators have long argued that they could take that weight off the NHS. It further makes the case for joined up thinking. The healthcare system should not be just about health. It needs health and care to work together. Politicians talk about this a great deal but on the ground we still seem to be a long way short of it.
What keeps care home operators involved and motivated is the importance of the service they provide and the satisfaction they get from delivering a service to elderly people who have reached a stage in their lives when they can no longer care for themselves. Proud people now in need of some assistance.
It’s important to encourage debate among care home operators and their national body, Care England, fights to ensure their voice is heard in the corridors of power.
It is not always about money. But care homes can help ensure that the very best value is achieved for every pound that comes their way, whether it be from the NHS or local government. It is a case of using the facilities available in the best possible way.
If we can crack that, the UK would be on its way to giving people the true care and dignity they deserve in their final years.
Editor Care Home Management