This is a biggie. Care providers are facing financial pressures arising from two principal directions: 1) increasing costs and 2) decreasing revenues. Covid’s impact on staffing and care, such as out-going mandatory vaccinations and PPE, lower occupancy rates in homes, alongside the ongoing freeze in local authority spend on social care, are all squeezing the operating margins of care providers.
This has all combined with recruitment difficulties to create a dynamic in some care homes, where homes are actually refusing new residents due to being understaffed. While the means tested threshold for publicly funded social care services has made care less accessible. These constraints have meant difficult choices for decision makers who need to both reduce costs, nurture staff, and provide quality care; how is digital tech for care helping care providers here?
Solutions for the Financial Challenges in Social Care:
Firstly, its worth noting the causes of these challenges are of a wider, systemic nature and have created waves of impacts on the care sector. This means adaption via tinkering with existing tools and operating models just might not cut the mustard! Especially as government funded Covid-19 support recedes while some of the impacts of Covid-19 lingers on for now.
An irony too is that the degree of change needed is motivating a drive to invest substantial capital into sustainably resolving these financial challenges; IT budgets are getting more love these days. So, what can providers implement to tap into revenues, lower costs, and improve efficiency?
Rostering and Payroll Software: staff costs account for 45-60% of care home fees, so if your organisation hasn’t invested into cloud-based rostering and payroll software for care, this is a big opportunity for optimisation; investing in this software reliably gives back a strong ROI for providers while streamlining various facets of staff management.
Estates and Maintenance software: non-staff costs account for 12-15% of fees typically and there are opportunities here too for optimisation – using software like Fixflo allows streamlining of property and incidents management and better, more efficient communications that save costs. For example, staff can capture a risk or incident on their phones and flag it instantaneously for actioning. An efficient, compliance-boosting solution.
Assistive Living Tech; the more non-intrusive methods for meeting care receivers’ needs can be applied (ethically, I might add), the more providers can provide efficient yet high-quality care. For example, monitoring and IoT devices (such as Alexa) are being used in care homes to enhance independence safely, while lowering the need for staff to check-in routinely. The more this space develops, care provider models will be able to change to enable more domiciliary services that offer opportunities for cost-effective, win-win care scenarios.
EMar Software; eMar offers a great opportunity to improve the efficiency, consistency and reporting of medication administration in care homes over traditional paper-based means. It takes less time to administrate and understand and makes for less mistakes that lead to investigations, saving time while making medication management a breeze. Ahh simplicity!
Suggestions for the other challenges; these challenges and the plethora of solutions you can employ are greatly interconnected, so solutions from other challenge articles can work. To give one example, software for increasing staff retention and development feeds into lower recruitment costs, a retained organisational knowledge base, and better onboarding.
Care Planning Software; These offer big opportunities for efficiency, staff satisfaction, risk reduction and compliance. Care planning software gives a faster yet more reliable way of planning care and can neatly sync up with CRMs, HR, rostering and billing amongst a range of other functions. This is an increasing must for organisations not yet using these solutions.
Upgrading financial software; Most care providers use some kind of financial software to keep track of monetary flows, but this is often siloed to finance and isn’t integrated with other departments’ operations. By integrating financial data with other datasets (e.g CRM, rostering, care planning, billing), it can be blended together for better insights and more beneficial predictions.
Hopefully some of these ideas will be a good starting point that will be useful to you or those you know in social care to overcome this challenge. What are the take aways here?
💡 Final Thoughts:
The financial challenge is systemic in nature and is being caused largely by factors beyond the locus of care organisations, such as Covid, wage competition from other sectors, and government policies.
This has meant the solutions for this challenge requires bigger shifts rather than tinkering with the established way of doing things. This is leading some organisations despite the financial challenge, to invest considerable funds into digital transformation.
Digital tech is providing options for easing the financial challenge, such as easily accessible cloud software, data analytics and more that can help organisations to make big improvements in efficiencies and costs that also can enhance their capacity to create revenue.
Nonetheless, implementing this tech is no day out on the beach! Change, especially big changes, can present risks and uncertainty which is crucial in respect to ensuring a viable ROI; but, when its done in the right way, it can even be an opportunity to realise more benefits than were originally intended! Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.