Last week we learned that dementia has trumped heart disease to become Britain’s single biggest killer.

If that isn’t worrying enough, the news comes at a time when the social care sector – the sector that is responsible for caring for our growing population of dementia sufferers – is slowly but surely heading for failure as each year more providers give up the struggle to survive and close their doors.

According to CQC, “The number of care homes overall in England has fallen from 18,068 in September 2010 to 16,614 in July this year.”

The real tragedy here isn’t that care homes are closing, although that is an awful situation for our society, it’s that there was no need for things to be this way. There is no reason why we couldn’t have a care sector where there are enough care homes able to give the quality of care needed.

However, a perfect storm is building – more homes are closing whilst the need for what they offer is growing.

But this storm should come as no surprise because the sector was set up to fail years ago.

It was set up to fail because, in this industry, the customer decides how much they’re going to pay.

How many other businesses do you know will accept the price customers dictate they’ll pay for their products or services, even if that price is less than the cost of making that product or delivering that service? Obviously none, because that would be crazy and those businesses would fold.

No business can survive where the customer dictates the price they’ll pay – it’s an unsustainable practice and yet that’s exactly what has been happening to care home owners across the country for years.

The local authorities are not paying the fees the homeowners need to survive, never mind what they need to make a profit, invest in their homes and deliver the quality of care their residents deserve and which industry standards demand.

In October, The Guardian newspaper reported on this and quoted CQC, saying, “The quality and safety of social care services received by elderly and disabled people in England are in danger, as care homes close and providers pull out because they can no longer make enough money, the care watchdog has warned.

“In a bleak assessment of the future of vital services that support millions of people, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) voiced alarm that the care sector as a whole is “at risk”.”

Until local authorities pay care providers what they need, so that they can deliver the right care and remain financially viable, more care homes are going to close and more hospital beds will become blocked.

But local authorities (and central Government who fund them) aren’t going to pay the fees required willingly because they say they don’t have the money. But whilst providers continue to accept the fees offered local authorities will continue to offer them and keep the problem off the table for as long as possible.

The only way this industry is going to survive, and our growing dementia population properly cared for, is if providers take a stand and say “no” to taking clients at those fees.

As I argued in my last post saying no and potentially losing a low-fee client and being left with an empty bed really is better than filling a bed for a fee that is lower than the cost of the care that you need to deliver.

Demand the fees you need so that you can remain financially viable. Only when most care providers do this will local authorities and Government have to take notice and better fund the sector.

And those that refuse to do this and undercut you? Well, they’re the ones who will eventually be out of business for good and good riddance them because they’re the ones who will be helping local authorities keep the fees low.

If you’re not receiving the fees you need then contact us and let us help you command the fees you do need – even for your current clients.

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