The end of the year fast approaches and I would usually be talking about reviewing the year that’s been and setting or tweaking a strategy to make the year ahead even better. And for our own care homes we would be having such talks.

This year has changed all of that. For most business owners in all sectors, not just the care sector, the talk will be about survival. We’ve made it this far, how do we ensure we make through to the other side in the best possible shape.

None of us could have been prepared for the year we’ve just had, but we can be prepared for the year ahead.

What you can’t do, is hope that next year will be better. What if it isn’t? What if the virus continues to impact our society as it has this year? We have to make sure that our care homes will get through whatever next year has in store.

If you want to do that then this is where you need to start.

The first thing you can do is decide that you will never go through the trauma of 2020 again.

Really Chris, how do I do that? I can’t control how this pandemic will unfold and what it will do to my residents, my staff and me. I know. I understand that forces outside of our control are at play here.

But you can decide to take back control and do all you can to make sure your care home is as prepared as it can be to face the challenges ahead.

That is your starting point…now what?

Now you need to review your year. Only by looking back at what has happened can you better prepare the way forward.

Well, let’s see Chris…where do I start? The pandemic happened and turned our world upside down.

I get it – we had our first case back in March in one of our nursing homes and we’ve had all the challenges you’ve had, so I do get it.

Let’s break it down. What actually happened in your care home that you don’t want repeated?

  • Clients died.
  • We’ve had too many empty beds.
  • Our costs have increased.
  • Staff levels aren’t where they should be.
  • We have struggled to maintain compliance.

Whatever didn’t work, (whether Covid related or not) write it down and then for each item on your list, recall what happened, think it through and identify why it happened.

Could you have done something different and avoided the problem? Is there something you can do to eliminate or at least minimize the chance of that issue recurring? What can you do to minimize the impact?

Delve down into each key challenge that had a noticeable impact and keep going until you reach the fundamental reason(s) for the issue and identify the impact on your care home.

For example, if you lost clients to Covid-19, was there a fundamental cause and are there things you could have done differently?

  • Not accepting NHS clients without proof that they were Covid-19 free.
  • More rigorous processes for ensuring staff didn’t bring it into the home.
  • Better training.
  • More effective daily checking and isolating procedures of residents.

None of these may be valid reasons – it may have been just s**t luck.

But by carrying out the exercise you either identify weak or vulnerable areas that need to be addressed or you will know that as far as possible you have done everything you can to mitigate for the threat.

Of course, your first aim is to keep Coronavirus out but no matter what you do, Coronavirus may still get into your care home. So, what can you do to reduce the impact of the virus in your care home?

Review and make sure that you have all the procedures in place to keep its impact to a minimum.

And what if that’s not enough? What is the worst-case scenario? Of course, the worst-case scenario is the Covid-19 having a tragic and devastating effect on your residents.

Setting aside the emotional trauma, this scenario could possibly leave your care home with too many empty beds and a financial ticking bomb.

Again, setting aside the tragedy of lives lost, the worst-case scenario for your care home is too many empty beds and financial ruin.

The final stage of mitigation is to make sure your care home is financially resilient enough to handle the worst-case scenario.

So, what does being ‘financially resilient enough’ mean? How do I make sure that my care home is financially resilient enough?

First, you must know how much this is costing to keep Coronavirus out of your care home. All the PPE, testing, checking, extra cleaning and so on. How much is this costing you each week?

If you don’t know this then how can you make sure your care home is financially healthy enough? You really need to know how much this virus is costing you.

I’ve done the calculations and I know that these costs could be the equivalent of 3 or more weekly bed fees. How big an impact would losing that many beds for an entire year have on you?

If you haven’t yet calculated how much it is costing you to keep your residents safe from Covid-19, read this report. The Cost of Keeping Coronavirus Out of Your Care Home.

Once you know this extra cost you need to add it to your usual running cost to give you a new (higher) level of cost. What impact does that have on you profit?

In the report I show an example 30-bed residential care home, on the average English council fee of £596 (as reported by LaingBuisson), having their 12.6% profit margin wiped out because of the cost of Coronavirus.

The tasks you have to follow to keep your care home free of this virus could be crippling you financially. That’s why you need to know what this cost is.

But what if the virus does get in? How much will it cost you to manage it? What if the worst-case scenario occurs and you are left with empty beds? The other reason why you need to know your costs is so you can work out the cost of having empty beds.

What if Coronavirus gets in and leaves you with 75% or 80% occupancy? How financially resilient does your care home need to be to ensure it can handle this level of occupancy? How many empty beds can your home manage before you have to let go of staff? What cost reduction actions can you take in the meantime?

These are all valid questions that you need to have the answers to if you are going to ensure your care home can make it through these treacherous times.

Rather than go through what you need to do in order to make your care home financially strong enough, check out my new report Will Your Home Survive This Crisis?

In the report I take you through what to do to make your care home financially healthy (how to set and receive the right fees) and I also cover how to calculate the financial impact of empty beds.

All that you are doing to keep your residents safe is vital but please don’t lose sight of the one thing you must have in order to keep your residents safe.

You must have a care home that is financially strong enough to get through this pandemic and beyond.

Follow the guidance in my report Will Your Home Survive This Crisis? and you can have a care home that is financially resilient to manage your worst-case scenarios.

We can hope that ‘worst-case’ won’t happen but we have to plan that it will. And ‘worst-case’ is that this virus is going to be with us through next year and still wreaking havoc as it mutates beyond what our vaccines can handle.

If that is the reality, what do you need to do to get through it? That is what you need to ask and plan for and that is what your care home needs you to do if it is to be financially strong enough to survive.

So, as we fast approach 2021 decide now that you are going to take back control and do what you can to ensure your care home makes it through 2021 and beyond. Don’t hope it will, decide that it will – establish that mindset.

Having made that decision, plan the time in your diary to review the year gone as soon as you can and put in place a plan that will keep your residents as safe as possible and that will make your care home financially resilient enough to make it.

 

Our mission is to help care homes succeed and we are working hard to provide you with the guidance and the tools you need to get through this pandemic and to succeed in a sector that has been crisis for years.

For example, download the ‘Cost of Coronavirus’ report and you will see a link to a calculator tool that will help you calculate the cost of this pandemic in your care home.

Looking beyond the pandemic and you have a sector that has been under funded for years, resulting in the loss of hundreds of care homes. The report Will Your Home Survive This Crisis? addresses this bigger issue and the tool the Quality Care Calculator helps you set the fees you need to succeed.

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