I've been meeting with a number of owners and managers in the Residential Care Home sector across the North West recently. It's even more challenging then ever to successfully run a good service providing care for older people. The media is constantly reporting bad news, commissioners are driving down fee rates, the new CQC inspection regime is raising the quality bar higher each year and now we have the Care Act requiring new approaches to the service. Despite all of this, there is an increasing need for high quality residential and community-based services to support our ageing population.
Did you know that the big brands you've heard of: Four Seasons, Bupa, Care UK, HC-One and so on, account for only around 10% of the care home industry? The vast majority of residential and nursing care is provided by single owner occupiers - in fact thousands of SMEs. These small businesses are the backbone of social care services across the UK and they are over burdened with regulation, employment challenges and decreased funding. We rely on these providers to deliver good quality service to support our elderly relatives 24/7 365-days a year and it's getting more difficult to achieve the standards.
So with all these pressures, why would anyone want to continue with this line of work?
Well that's easy. Most providers love the people they serve and want to look after them to the best of their ability. And these small businesses need help so that they can spend their time building those meaningful relationships and minimising administration.
The advent of the new Care Act should be seen as an opportunity. It aims to make care and support clearer and fairer and to put people's wellbeing at the centre of decisions. Essentially its intended to put older people in control of their lives. So individuals have new rights and responsibilities as do those of us involved in the provision of care services.
So why did we start off talking about leadership? That's because the most common failing in the new CQC lines of enquiry is whether the home is well led. CQC inspectors now focus more time with residents, relatives and staff to build a better picture of life in the home and the quality of care being received. This is an intentional departure from a 'tick box' approach to a more rounded view to focus on outcomes for residents. Whilst policies, procedures and relevant training are still important, having a really confident motivated team is key.
Care teams are unconsciously tested every day by social workers, the doctors, family members and the CQC. Often a team member is distracted from caring for residents by 'others' demanding their attention. Residents care always comes first. Our priority is our resident and any other focus or distraction leaves us wide open to criticism. Care Home Managers are leaders first and foremost. They must give their staff the right tools to make the right decisions in the moment. They must empower their people and give them confidence. A confident team will exude confidence for any visitor and reassure all those involved in the care decision-making process that their trust is well placed.
As regulators are now looking at a wider range of measures from financial viability through to quality of care, it's even more important to get leadership right throughout your organisation.
For support with all people matters, regulations like Health and Safety and more, contact the Forum if in doubt to get expert advice. If you want to know how the Forum of Private Business can help your business please do contact us here or call us on 0845 130 1722.