Care Home Professional managing director Rob Corder shares the top five things he has learnt about the sector this year.
- Delayed transfer of elderly people from hospital to care homes hurts everybody except hospitals. Governments always cave in to NHS demands for more money, but the much better solution is for more money to go to social care providers (residential and domiciliary) so that they can provide care in a homely environment at dramatically lower cost. This is not a simple thing to achieve, but the country must accept that it is the best plan and dedicate maximum effort to achieve it.
- The north/south divide is real, and a very real challenge. Operators are selling businesses in the north of England so that they can invest more in the south where self-funding residents are willing to pay double what local authorities offer in the north. Social care is mainly paid for with taxes raised locally, so the poorest parts of the country raise less in council tax and have to support a higher percentage of their elderly populations in care. Central government must find a way to distribute money from the affluent south where the money is least needed to the north where they are desperate for cash.
- Big and beautiful is not necessarily best. Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care for the CQC, says that too much attention on how a care home looks is not leading to the best ratings from inspectors. The industry needs to think more like the residents it is caring for, and less on where they would like to live. If you go to your 90-year-old mother’s house, does she have Scandi-design furniture, mood lighting and iPad-adjustable curtains? No? Then why would she be comfortable in a care home that does?
- Private sector capitalism in the care home sector is good for the public and the public purse. Several of our big interviews this year have been with managing directors that have worked in conjunction with local authorities to replace decrepit services with modern properties capable of delivering excellent care. As often as not these essential upgrades have been done using innovative financing and business models that cost taxpayers no more than they were paying for the older, not fit for purpose services. Anybody that thinks the private sector is a threat to improving health and care in this country is wrong.
- The CQC is not the enemy. The inspectorate and care home operators want the same thing, which is to grow the number of Good and Outstanding homes in England. Operators naturally want the best ratings, and to publicise that success in their own marketing and on the CQC online portal. However, great ratings have to be earned, and embracing the methodology outlined by the CQC, and working in harmony with the watchdog, will lead to the better care that will end up with better ratings.