The end of the last decade had its fair share of ups and downs. The recruitment and retention of quality staff remained a huge challenge despite the launch of a national recruitment campaign; cuts to social care funding meant some providers had to resort to offering care to fewer people; and more vulnerable people ended up in hospital or inappropriate care settings for the same reason.
Despite these challenges, however, the sector continued to deliver quality care, with the proportion of ‘Outstanding’ home care services rising from 3% to 4%; more investment was made into later-life research and intergenerational projects; and a growing number of technological solutions helped providers deliver better care outcomes.
So what trends can the domiciliary care sector expect to witness in 2020 and beyond? Senior directors from four of the leading domiciliary care providers in the country share their forecasts below.
Martin Jones, CEO, Home Instead Senior Care UK
“Bear in mind that a nine-year-old today has a one-in-two chance of living to at least 105 years old – and this is the reality that we need, as a sector, to prepare for. I think we are going to start to see people wake up to the fact that people’s homes are going to be the ‘hospital wards of the future’. It’s a setting that will foster overall health, wellbeing and independence. And, let’s not forget that ‘home’ is where the majority of people want to be.
“The use of technology will become far more prevalent in the sector. For me, the key theme for 2020 and indeed the decade ahead will be the intersection of high-tech and high-touch and how we embrace technology as we address the challenges of an ageing world.
“I also think we’ll see more collaboration between business and healthcare for the greater good of our ageing population. This is already in action through the work of some of our franchise owners, who have been working with the NHS to prevent hospital admissions through falls and the statistics are staggering in terms of savings on ambulance call outs, A&E visits and hospital stays. There really are so many health issues and incidents that can be dealt with in people’s homes – if we put the right training and systems in place.
Dominique Kent, managing director, Good Care Group
“I predict a growth in privately purchased care due to a combination of people not getting any/the right care from councils and people making lifestyle choices about care at home rather than residential care
“I also believe councils will become increasingly susceptible to market pressures – if they aren’t willing to pay a reasonable price then providers will go elsewhere generally the self-pay market.
“There will also be a greater use of technology, particularly to improve providers’ productivity and to make real-time data about care available to family members.”
Ken Deary, CEO, Right at Home UK
“Inevitably, recruitment will continue to be the sector’s biggest challenge – unlike some sectors like high street retail, demand in our sector continues to grow at pace – and as we all know, there will be a gap between demand for services and supply of care workers, which may be exacerbated in the short-term by Brexit. It will be those offices with the best recruitment and retention practices that will continue to grow.
“With the increasing cost of doing business due to the rise of the living wage, among other pressures, the correct pricing of home care services will become even more important. It would be disappointing to see more providers going out of business because they rely on low margin government sponsored work. I foresee further pressure on low-margin providers and therefore increased pressure on local authorities to pay a realistic price for home care to support such providers to maintain quality operations.
“Excitingly, I see a trend of increased use of technology to complement personal care. Smart providers will not just put technology in place for technology’s sake but make sure it adds productivity to their business and ultimately supports their clients to have a better quality of life.
“I also see an increase in quality local owner-operated franchise offices. Interestingly, the major growth in UKHCA members has come from franchise brands. I also believe franchise brands have had a significant impact on helping improve CQC ratings across England as they tend to have forward thinking national support structures that help their franchise owners in all aspects of running their business, especially in terms of quality and compliance.”
Yvonne Hignell, managing director, Bluebird Care
“I predict more of the same – an increasing need and continued challenges around recruitment and retention. These challenges must focus our minds to think about how we can better use technology to prevent decline, reduce risk, improve outcomes and improve quality of experience/life; and how we can attract the very best people to our organisations.
“As Bluebird Care is predominantly private pay, state-funded care issues don’t affect all of our businesses. However, we do have a number of clients who rely on local authority and NHS contracts, so fair fees will continue to be a challenge.”