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Home care leaders: The biggest lessons learned from 2021

2021 diary

Directors and CEOs from some of the UK’s leading home care businesses have shared the biggest lessons they have learned from 2021.

From the importance of being kind and trusting their instincts, to understanding the true value of data and technology, these leaders reflect on what the past year has taught them about how to run a successful domiciliary care business.

Scroll down to read their comments.

Agincare CEO Raina Summerson

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“My biggest lessons from 2021 are about ‘more’. Even if you think you are communicating well, there is always more to be done. Even when you think there is no more you can cope with or can give, there is always more that you can do. Even when the government and society still don’t get why social care is so important, despite all the efforts, we must do more to make them understand. Even if times are tough, more development, innovation and change can (and must) be pursued. Even when you think you know just how brilliant the social care workforce is, they just keep doing more to make you proud, humble and grateful.”

Cera co-founder and CEO Dr Ben Maruthappu

“Throughout the year, we’ve seen the true value of a robust healthcare at home sector demonstrated across all aspects of British society like never before. From the role carers and nurses play in empowering older and vulnerable people to live healthy and independently, to the sector’s central role in the economy as a burgeoning area of employment – as well as in enabling families and friends to go to work whilst their loved ones are taken care of during the pandemic. 

“More so, we’ve also seen the increasing value of data and technology in supporting carers and nurses, improving health outcomes for older and vulnerable people and protecting NHS resources. Within our own community, we’ve demonstrated that the concerted use of health data can increase the response time for health issues among older people by up to 30-fold, and can reduce hospitalisations by 45%.”

Helping Hands CEO Andy Hogarth

“This pandemic has been a huge strain on all of us in care. We all worked really hard through 2020 while a lot of the UK had time off on furlough or at least didn’t have the commute since they were working from home. In 2021, carers have carried on working at least as hard, if not harder, than the previous year and this is having a much bigger impact on each of us than is always apparent from the outside. Therefore we all need to be extra, extra, kind and understanding of each other (and ourselves) as we have no idea what anyone else is going through right now.

“Another lesson to learn is when running your part of your business, keep a really clear idea of what your plan for success is, and once you have it, stick to it. Don’t change, don’t react to short term problems, don’t knee jerk. If it’s the right plan then stick to it because with time it will work. The great advantage of this is that everyone who works with you will know what’s expected of them because it doesn’t keep changing.” 

Home Instead UK CEO Martin Jones

“At the height of the pandemic, we saw a huge outpouring of support from the public for the social care sector which was celebrated alongside healthcare. Many thought this positivity would wane, but I think we’ve all been surprised that the light continues to shine, quite rightly, on our sector. Home care is now being recognised as the most sustainable and truly person-centred approach. There is still a long way to go but there has been progress.

“It’s also been a year of positive change across our sector, where we have seen innovation at a pace and scale like never before; particularly with technology. Our client’s needs are going to require us to become more digitally mature and agile. It’s been a time for us to take stock of our current capabilities and where we as a sector need to improve.

“Finally, whilst this is no new lesson, it has never been more important: our workforce is our most valuable asset. It’s never been more challenging to find caregivers and to retain them, and the competitive labour market shows no signs of slowing down. As we move into a new year, I would hope we are all putting the right measures in place to ensure our teams feel supported, rewarded and empowered to deliver the best care possible.

“As the virus continues to impact our lives our love of life has been reinforced and reminded us to cherish everyone, every day.”

Right at Home COO Lucy Campbell

“2021 has been both one of the most rewarding and challenging years the care sector has faced. Early in the year, when other industries were forced to close their doors due to another national lockdown, the care sector experienced one of the most fruitful periods for recruitment. But despite such a promising start to the year, we were faced with the task of navigating a post-Brexit Britain, resulting in no visa privileges for social care workers. This, coupled with the easing of restrictions in the summer, caused rippling effects on recruitment and retention as providers struggled to recruit carers from a shrinking talent pool.

“By the summer, the sector was facing significant recruitment challenges and was thrust into the national spotlight, attracting attention from the mainstream media. With both media and public interest in our sector growing, this presented us with an opportunity to turn a challenging situation into a positive. Through national coverage and speaking opportunities we were able to have our voice heard in a way like never before, highlight social care’s invaluable contribution to the communities we are part of, and encourage more people to see care as the exciting and rewarding career it is. It was this championing of the sector that led us to create and launch a national recruitment campaign like no other. Due to be launched in January 2022, our New Year, New Career campaign will further highlight what an incredible sector we are in, whilst importantly aiming to diminish the negative stigma and connotations that surround a career in care.

“As we come to the end of the year, we, like many other providers, are sadly in the heart-breaking position of at times having to turn away families who need our services because we simply cannot recruit the number of carers we need to support everyone who needs our services. Whilst it is disappointing to be in this position, our focus remains on supporting our employees to provide the highest quality care to our clients. We therefore continue to learn that through the most challenging times, it is so important to stay true to our values and commitment to quality and to seek out the positives from those challenges. It is this that will see us hold strong, united as a network whilst remaining optimistic as we move into 2022.’’

Tags : LeadersLessons Learned
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke