Reflections on the last decade
Social care has become far more difficult to operate in. The regulatory burden has increased whilst the funding has decreased. This has its advantages as it has reduced the number of poorer operators but it has left the stronger ones struggling too. Regulation has led to more training requirements which smaller operators can struggle to afford. Regarding funding, I’ve had recent conversations with banks who are no longer funding homes with fewer than 25 beds. Lending criteria has tightened and it means that, from a commercial point of view, it’s hard to move a portfolio forward.
Providers have had to tighten up their costs, culture and mindset. We deliver ‘Outstanding’ care with the tools at our disposal. We’ve become more efficient, effective and transparent. We work with Nourish Care so have embraced technology which allows us to spend more time caring and less time on paperwork. We’re a people business, we need to be looking after people.
We’ve worked hard to become an ‘Outstanding’ provider with a strong reputation. We had a very open culture and a strong duty of candour mindset long before it became a statutory requirement. We look at what works and replicate it, but we also look at what doesn’t work and how to improve it. We take ownership of any issues that may arise and learn from them.
Projections for the next decade
Consolidation is likely to lead to limited choice. Venture capitalist and outside investment will consolidate the market and could lead to standards dropping. Looking at CQC data, many ‘Outstanding’ services are single, double or small operators, they have the personal touch and emotional investment in the business from the top down, or bottom up, depending on how you look at it. In a small business, you can feel the culture, you can check on all aspects and be both proactive and reactive, making changes as soon as they’re needed. You don’t have layers of management to go through.
I think the regulatory burden will remain, there are changes happening, but I think it’ll be more of the same. The financial strain is massive and will increase. Brexit will increase costs; social services budgets are continuing to decline. This will lead to smaller providers, those with 25 to 30 beds, struggling. The impact of homecare will be lessened as it’s becoming more expensive to deliver, especially with the National Living Wage increasing. If the Government doesn’t put money in, the sector will explode and only the strong will remain.
Those with leasehold models will continue to see costs increase and will need to make further efficiencies, such as stripping out middle management. Over the longer term, there’s the question of robotics and AI, will that start to grow?
I’m hands-on, I help with all aspects of the business if I need to, from maintenance up to board level. I’m forward thinking, try to be innovative and, of course, caring. I have a diverse role, I get on and lead by example.
I have three. My dad, Mahen came to the UK in 1966 with nothing but a briefcase. He gave me a stepping stone, his business was built on the same saying that we follow today, ‘I’d never run a home that I wouldn’t put my parents in.’
My Uncle Raj in London runs care homes and is an accountant. He’s taught me how to make a business work and to budget.
Finally, Mandy Kittlety my Director of Operations is the person I can speak to and bounce ideas off. As Managing Director, you need someone to lean on, so she is my sounding board.
Don’t to be afraid to learn. Also, it’s important that you manage the emotional side of your personality: your fears and anxiety. We all have it, but it’s how we manage it that matters, we can’t let it affect our lives as we can’t give up when people need us most.
Build the right team. You can’t do it on your own. Bring in people who have different strengths to you, if you want to grow.
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