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Lack of time and money preventing private home care firms from investing in technology, survey finds

Cover image LinkedIn Post Home Care Report 2021

A lack of time and money is preventing private home care companies in the UK from investing in technology-enabled care (TEC) and “easing the care bottleneck”, according to a new report.

A survey of UK commercial home care agency leaders by international home care technologists Secure has revealed that 57% of respondents are “considering investing” in smart 24/7 home monitoring technology.

However, to date, care businesses have been prioritising investment in staff management and work scheduling technology.

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All survey respondents have deployed TEC of some description, with 95% using care scheduling and carer monitoring/mobile apps for carers.

But uptake of technology beyond these two solutions has been low. Just 10% of respondents have invested in 24/7 home monitoring, and 19% in fall detection.

There was a unanimous agreement that TEC is set to have a big impact on the business of home care, with 57% of respondents believing that it already is.

But home care business decision makers believe upfront costs and a lack of time to evaluate the myriad of solutions on offer are preventing them from investing in the latest technology.

A lack of awareness of the options available, limited technical support and a feeling that staff will be reluctant to engage with TEC, are also viewed as barriers to uptake.

Paul Botsford, Secure’s Head of Assisted Living Technology and Services for Beanbag Care, a range of smart home monitoring solutions, said: “I think these survey results are a very honest reflection of the current state of play in the commercial home care business market.

“I know from my conversations with care business owners and managers that it’s not a lack of willingness to innovate that’s the problem – but a shortage of time and money.

“The crisis in social care isn’t just related to the high-profile problem of staffing and profitability, but these have a far-reaching impact on the ability of many businesses to think and act strategically.

“If you’re busy trying to survive it’s difficult to invest in the systems that will ease the care bottleneck, improve care standards and allow businesses to do more with less resources.

“We know that we are in a challenging and competitive market, but to put it bluntly, that’s why we’re here and why we created Beanbag Care: because the opportunities for growth and improvement are enormous, if we continue to deliver a solution that fits the realistic needs of the market.”

Investment in tech during COVID

The survey also revealed that 76% of home care decision makers had not invested in TEC to help with the delivery of services during the pandemic.

This somewhat challenges the narrative that Covid-19, and the subsequent lockdowns, were a catalyst for investment in digital.

However, it may also be worth considering that many of the digital solutions made popular over the pandemic, such as basic video calling via WhatsApp or Zoom, are free to use, so require no new investment.

Botsford commented: “In my experience of talking to leaders across care, it appears that public bodies, such as the NHS, social landlords and local authorities, have invested in the provision of tablets and automated call ‘bots’, designed to improve communication and identify those most in need.

“Commercial home care business leaders on the other hand have been quick to outline how they’ve been hit with spiralling costs, and a level of demands that has pushed their staff and capacity to the limit.

“Many have also reported that the combination of the pandemic and Brexit has put huge pressure on people and available human resources, making recruitment and retention of home carers increasingly difficult – all of which has been compounded by levels of absence and the ‘pingdemic’.

 “However, in our experience this is starting to change, with more businesses now having an eye on the future, recognising that TEC will soon be an industry standard rather than a ‘nice to have’.”

Secure’s Home Care Business and Innovation survey was conducted in April 2021, on 35 commercial home care business leaders.

Tags : Beanbag CarePaul BotsfordSecureTECtechnology enabled care
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke