In a time where keeping an eye on expenditure is essential, with the help of some industry experts, we look into balancing quality and affordability in your care home.

Balancing quality and affordability in care homes is a critical aspect when addressing the cost-of-living crisis, particularly in the context of an aging population. As people are living longer, the demand for long-term care services has increased, leading to a higher demand for care homes and other related services.

The UK’s care sector crisis has reached an all-time high. After a tough few years with the pandemic, and staff retention, it’s facing a new crisis, with care homes losing almost £11,000 per day in paper wastage, according to new research from Found CRM.

The social care sector, which has consistently been underfunded over the last decade, must now prioritise transforming its technology, or face losing over £4 million each year. New research from Found CRM has revealed care homes across the UK are losing £11,000 a day in paper waste – equivalent to the weight of 158 double decker buses (1,900 tonnes) each year.

This amount of paper costs the care sector over £4 million annually and is used to manage care home enquiries, occupancy and visits – before any marketing materials are considered.

There is an urgent need for care homes across the UK to transform their technology by investing in paperless systems, according to Found’s latest research.

Although care homes are already feeling the pressure of a limited social care budget, Government spending on public healthcare is set to be reduced by 5.3 billion in 2023, despite previous plans to increase NHS and social care funding over the next few years – placing homes at even greater risk of losing more money.

Chris Donnelly, CEO at Found CRM said: “The care sector is infamous for its use of paper to make notes, track care home enquiries, create care plans, organise staff rotas, and much more.” So, it’s no surprise that Found CRM research has revealed care homes across the UK use an amount of paper equivalent to 1,900 tonnes each year – costing £11,000 each day and over £4 million annually!

“Adopting innovative digital solutions, such as electronic medical records, digitised documentation systems, and advanced communication technologies, can significantly reduce paper consumption and costs in the care sector, while improving efficiency and streamlining operations,” shared Chris Donnelly, CEO at Found CRM.

Co-Owner of BA Healthcare, Rick Canavan, sees that balancing quality and affordability in care homes is vital to success, as he said: “There are always ways that a provider can innovate and improve and right now, for example, we’re seeing so many advances in technology that are making a huge difference in the way we care for people, but all of those things come at a cost, and very often it’s an extra cost. At the same time, many providers are really constrained in their ability to pass those costs on, so the focus has to be ensuring financial sustainability while also looking at how quality can be improved.”

Staffing and recruitment massively contribute to the increasing costs of running a care home, and Rick goes as far to say: “it’s a big, if not the biggest, cost for many providers, and of course there are also additional costs as soon as bank or agency staff are being used.”

Noticing even where care providers keep that specific spend to a minimum, it can really add up. In the tight labour market we have at the moment, providers are having to pay more to compete in the job market: they’re having to offer sign-on and retention bonuses just to get people through the door, and it isn’t necessarily keeping them.

The solution from BA Healthcare helps to maintain quality while keeping costs reasonable. International recruitment means providers can operate at full capacity with all the staff they need.  Rick explained how a lot of the company’s clients cannot reliably staff the capacity they have, but need to utilise all their capacity to be financially sustainable.

“International recruitment, done well, should also result in excellent retention. Most providers who we work with are also able to almost completely eliminate bank and agency spend – take all of that together and our solution pays for itself in a matter of months, and then it’s about paying the provider back.”

High staff turnover at a care establishment can have a huge knock-on effect on expenses, and Rick explained that many homes often don’t understand the extent of the issue because it’s not looked into, or talked about, enough: “It’s often a hidden cost, or a cost they haven’t sat down and worked out fully. When they do, they realise that replacing a single carer could be costing them £2,000.”

If you turnover 20-30% of the workforce each year, which is the sector average, that is a lot of money and has a real impact on the quality of care, and a home’s financial stability.

Finding a solution which works for your home, as a means of staying on top of expenses, comes with research, and perhaps trial and error, too. Peter Hucker, CEO, Xledger UK, notices that one of the main challenges within care homes is actually having visibility over expenses. Xledger provides all relevant stakeholders real-time visibility of all expenses which have been incurred in care homes, with the ability to drill down to the invoice level.

“Another solution to help support care homes stay on top of their expenses is utilising digital workflows, where all expenditure needs to be approved when a purchase order has been raised, this allows budget holders/care home operators to control what expenses occur within the home before committing to the expense,” added Peter.

By implementing thoughtful policies, innovative solutions and community-based support systems, societies can work towards providing quality care that is accessible and financially sustainable for all, thereby easing the burden on families and individuals struggling with the rising costs of living.