Putting care at the heart of the care home business
06 June 2019
Facing an estimated staffing shortage of 290,000 by 2030, the social care sector is under pressure to boost recruitment and reduce staff turnover. After conducting research in which we spoke with 2,000 carers and care-home managers from across the UK, we came up with recommendations to help homes boost employee retention, which we will now explore further here in a series of blogs. We categorised these recommendations in the following five areas:
- Putting care at the core
- Building the right organisational structure
- Facilitating a smooth day-to-day experience for staff
- Commit to personal development
- Driving career development
To kick off our series, I want to explain why care-home businesses need to put care at the heart of everything they do.
A huge funding shortfall is exerting immense pressure on care homes to cut costs. As a result, home operators and managers too often focus exclusively on revenue and profitability. Carers understand these concerns, but they aren’t motivated by financial metrics. (“That’s how you incentivise people in suits,'' as one respondent eloquently put it.) They want to deliver great care and drive positive outcomes for the people they look after, whilst working for a healthy and sustainable business.
To engage and inspire carers, homes need to create a care-centric culture. That means ensuring that care is at the very centre of everything the business stands for – from its vision and values to its ambition and strategic priorities. The culture shouldn’t just be fostered internally, it should be central to communications with the public, service users, carers, local authorities, stakeholders, investors and the executive board.
To reflect this shift in focus, care homes need to adapt the KPIs they use to benchmark their success. Revenue, occupancy and costs are clearly important and will remain critical parts of the picture, but homes should also measure staff satisfaction as well as the happiness and outcomes of service users. Having the right mix of KPIs makes sure that everyone across the business – from front-line staff to investors – focuses on care quality and positive outcomes.
To emphasise the importance of care, homes need to champion the people that deliver it. Many of the carers we spoke with saw their profession as a lowly job or a temporary stop-gap, and some even reported embarrassment about their line of work. Managers need to emphasise to carers that they are the nuts and bolts of the business, and that their hard work is absolutely fundamental to commercial success and to improving the quality of life for service users. With greater recognition, carers will feel happier and more engaged, reducing their temptation to look for work elsewhere.
If you’d like to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog or in the research study, please get in touch.