What is your number 1 priority and how are you going to make sure you achieve it during these unprecedented times?

When I ask care providers what their number 1 priority is, I receive answers like…

•  “Make sure my residents receive the best of care.”

•  “Make sure my home is safe and secure for those who live in it.”

•  “Keep my home as fully occupied as possible.”

•  “To pass CQC inspections.”

•  “I don’t know. I just try and keep it working as well as I can.”

Except for the last one, which was more a cry for help, these are justifiable aims and by far the most common answer is the first one regarding residents/clients receiving the best of care.

But to make any of them your top priority is to set your home up to fail.

Last week a care association hosted a day’s seminar, the theme of which was financial viability – very topical in this time of massively rising costs.

This was a real old-fashioned seminar. Not a webinar – a seminar. I was invited to speak to a room full of real physical people. Can you imagine that?

Having not presented to real people for over two years I was a little nervous but very excited to talk about this subject of financial viability.

If you’ve read some previous blog posts or my reports or used my tools, you’ll know I consider financial viability being central to the survival of your care business, never mind its success. And even more so with the cost rises we’ve been seeing and the hikes in costs that will hit in April.

Having introduced myself and QoC I asked the audience to do something knowing that if this went wrong, I would fall flat on my face.

So, with slight trepidation I said, “Please raise your hands if you think your number 1 priority is to make sure your residents or clients receive the best of care.”

Most did.

I then said, “Please raise your hands if you think your number 1 priority is to make sure your care business is financially healthy.”

Only a handful did.

The ‘falling flat on my face scenario’ was the next bit. I said that in the next 3 minutes my aim was that when I repeated the exercise, those who raised their hands in answer to the first statement would change their mind and raise them on the second statement.

I then presented why their number 1 priority should be to ensure their care business is financially healthy and repeated the raising hands exercise.

Much to my relief, all hands stayed down after the first statement and the vast majority raised their hands to the 2nd statement that being financially viable should be their number 1 priority.

If you would have raised your hands on the first statement – the care your residents/clients receive being your top priority – then please read on and let’s see if I manage to change your mind too.

Your Number 1 Priority Versus Your Number 1 Aim.

I initially presented the fact that for decades the care sector has lost many care homes and hence beds because they have been under funded and run out of money. (The same is true of home care and other services.)

I showed this chart showing the relative drop in funding from the 2010/11 spend, which is set at zero so that the level of funding in subsequent years can be compared.

You see that funding only exceeding that of 10 years ago. And that was only because of the extra ‘Covid’ funding the government had to provide.

I also showed this next chart to show the losses of care homes and beds in England between 2015 and 2020.

The point was to highlight that the crisis in care and the closure of care homes (and home care) is down to a lack of funding. That was my first argument as to why your financial viability must be your top priority.

I then showed this slide and presented it from right to left as follows.

 

 

Like all good care providers, your number 1 aim is to deliver high quality care.

To do that you need to have things in place such as enough, well trained staff, a well-maintained environment (for care homes), a service that runs efficiently and effectively, a good management team and so on.

You also need to be compliant and ideally have a good CQC rating and be providing healthy, nutritious meals and stimulating activities and events where possible.

The list isn’t exhaustive but is enough to paint the picture that a lot of things need to work for high quality care to be consistently delivered.

I then bracketed the list and asked what all of these requirements have in common.

“Money!” Some correctly shouted out, which of course means fees.

Everything you need to do and everything you need to have in place costs money.

If you aren’t generating the revenue needed to return a healthy profit so you can continue to invest in your business and ride the bad times as well as the good, then you can’t deliver the service – the care – your clients need.

If you focus on your clients and the standard of care they receive, you will be reactively addressing issues that affect that standard of care. Over time you will find that being able to deliver to that standard becomes harder and harder because you can no longer afford to.

But if you focus on making sure your care business is financially healthy enough then you know you can afford to provide all that is required to meet the required standard of care.

In other words, make having a financially strong business your number 1 priority and you can realise your number 1 aim – the outcome – to deliver the best of care to your residents/clients.

I finished my argument by saying receiving the right fees and being financially strong doesn’t guarantee that your clients will receive the best of care – you and your staff still need to make that happen.

But struggling on low fees and being financially weak does guarantee failure to sustainably deliver quality care and will eventually lead to closure.

If you were in the audience and had initially raised your hand to your number 1 priority being the care provision, I hope you would have changed your mind too.

Having presented why financial health should be your number 1 priority I went on to outline how to make sure your care business is financially strong.

I’ll cover that in my next post.

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