We’re scarily half-way through 2021 and although arguably better than last year, it is turning out to be another tough one. Right now, the challenges are less to do with Covid-19 itself but more to do with the ‘guidance’ and legislation – like the mandatory vaccination for those working in social care – being brought in by Boris and the government.

I don’t doubt though that as we approach winter the pandemic itself will impact us as it did earlier in the year.

But regardless of the challenges we’ve all faced and continue to face, there should still be an element of reflection and assessment as to where your care home is now in relation to where you expected it to be.

The end of the calendar year is always a natural time to review how the year has gone and so the half-way house of July is a natural “how are we doing so far” milestone. (Of course, you should review where you are on a monthly basis and especially no longer than quarterly.)

Is your care home in a better place than last year? Is it recovering from where it was before the pandemic? Is it anywhere near where you expected it to be prior to the pandemic?

Did you set an expectation of where your care home(s)would be?

You may at this point have a couple of questions:

  1. “What do you mean, ‘where’?”
  2. “Does it matter right now after everything that has happened?”

‘Where’ is your care home business?

Every business needs to measure their performance against specific metrics like revenue, profit, costs, number of products sold, number of customers, average customer spend and so on.

Only by doing this can they gauge if their business is growing or shrinking or possibly doing ok now but seeing trends that could cause issues in 6 months’ time.

What are your key business metrics? Financial measurements are important for all businesses and so you should know your revenue, profit, costs and outstanding debts. Ideally you should know these on a monthly basis so you can respond to missed targets such as the collection of outstanding debts.

There are also sector specific metrics that you should measure such as occupancy level, average fee level and profit per client type. (Social services, CHC, 117, private and so on.) You could also measure spend on agency staff, maintenance and training.

Of course, you have to record things like the number of incidents and accidents, DMIs and safeguardings. You also need to know that your staff have received the training they need, whether mandatory or not, that staff levels are right for the types of clients you have, that care plans are up to date, and you may wish to measure how efficiently people are helped in the morning with tasks like Personal Care and what time everyone has had their breakfast by.

Regardless of what is going on in the sector (and the world) you still need to know how well your care home is performing.

Does it matter right now?

You might argue that where you are isn’t so important because it certainly isn’t where you expected or aimed to be.

You could argue that you know your occupancy level has been hit, that your costs have increased and your profit reduced. So, you just want to focus on filling your beds for the best fees you can and hope that nothing else hits you as you try and get back to where you were two years ago.

Perfectly reasonable response but this is why knowing where you are compared to where you were is important. It is about knowing how much.

With metrics in place, you have clarity of knowing how much revenue and profit you may be down, if your debtors aren’t paying up and need to be chased, how much more you are spending on agency staff, how many more incidents and accidents are being recorded and if that can be attributed to staff turnover and training.

You can build a clearer picture and connect dots.

With that clarity you can more strategically set a course that gets your care home to where it was before the pandemic quicker than if you are simply looking at what needs addressing on any particular day.

Instead of simply filling an empty bed with the first referral that comes your way or successful bid you make, measurements of financial return based on the type of clients you have may point to you holding out for a particular client with a certain level of needs.

And no, not all clients are equal. A social services client with few needs will cost a lot less to look after than a CHC clients with complex needs. The return you make on the latter should be greater than on the former because your profit should be a percentage that is based on the cost of caring for that person.

You also need to look at your staff levels – if you previously had a number of clients who had complex needs and your staff levels were higher in order to manage their needs then you don’t want to fill empty beds with people whose care needs are much lower because you will have more staff than you need and the cost to go with it.

These measurements could also highlight trends that you wouldn’t have known about. For example, with all of the extra tasks that Coronavirus brought you may not know that care plans weren’t updated as they should have been and are out of date. Then you have an inspection and care plans are checked…uh oh.

Strategic Destination

Did you set a Strategic Destination before the pandemic?

This strategic destination is something for your business to aim at and can comprise a number of targets such as revenue and profit, average occupancy level, average bed fee target per client type and so on. It can also include more ambitious aims such as opening a new wing or new care home.

It’s likely that because of the pandemic many of these targets were missed. That’s understandable. Now, you should review what your targets were, amend to current circumstances and set a new course to reach a new destination.

Read more: Where Do You Want Your Care Home to Be? Your Strategic Destination.

So, are you on course? Lets’ look at your 3 possible answers…

Yes, I’m on Course

To be honest that would be unlikely. No sectors have been immune to the effects of the pandemic.

The plans of many global well-known companies went out of the window because of the pandemic. The revenue of online companies like Amazon and Zoom were way beyond any expectation in 2020, whilst physical companies like British Airways and McDonalds slumped.

But let’s say you are on course. Don’t forget this is about all of your targets so you may be on course with some but not others. You may be on course regarding your target to reduce your use of agency staff by 10% but not regarding maintaining and average your occupancy level of 95%+.

The numbers only tell part of the story and you need to dive in to see what’s behind those numbers.

For example, you may only be on track regarding use of agency staff because of lower occupancy which in turn is because of the pandemic.

Or you may be hitting your average occupancy level target because the NHS was desperate to free up empty beds. Are targets being met or missed because of an unusual circumstance (luck or bad luck) rather than because of the execution of a clear strategy?

Like I said, even the global companies have been caught out so don’t beat yourself up. But do recognise if your situation is down to good or bad luck as opposed to deliberate strategy that was met of missed.

No, I’m Not on Course

Most companies aren’t – the pandemic saw to that. But either way at least you know.

Knowing that you’re not on course implies that you did create a course (a strategy) for your business in the first place.

Because you have a clear, measurable strategy you know where you are, why you are where you are, what was missed and why and what you need to do to get back on course.

If achieving the milestones, you originally set out, is no longer realistic then don’t waste time staying on that course and hoping that, with luck, you will get back on it. Revise your strategy, and set a new course based on what you’ve realistically been able to achieve so far and what you need to do in order to meet yourrevised targets.

I Don’t Know if I’m on Course

Not knowing if you are on course or not is worse than knowing that you’re not on course.

If your business is actually on course, not knowing or not knowing why it is, basically means you are blind and your business is only on course out of sheer luck.

At some point that luck will run out. But because you’re blind to the progress your business is making and the path that it’s on, you may not know that things have gone wrong until it’s too late.

The same is true if it isn’t on course and risks simply drifting further off course.

Of course, saying ‘don’t know” could imply that there was no course in the first place – that there was no strategy to get the business from where it was at the start of the year to where you want it to be at the end of the year. That truly is the worst-case scenario.

Knowing whether your business is on course or not – having this visibility – is a strength that all businesses need. Remember, even if it’s not on course, at least this visibility means you know why and can therefore do something about it.

This is why you need to set a strategic destination and create and execute a strategy that will get you there.

So, I ask again, are you on course?

If you need help to set the right course and to stay on it then check out the free resources on my website www.qualityofcare.co.uk and look out for new material on how to develop and execute the right strategy for your care home business.

Share This