Despite UK demographics and trends clearly signaling the need for more care home beds the reality is that:
- Many more care homes are closing;
- Fewer new care homes are being built; and
- There is a growing net annual loss of care home beds.
That means there is increasing NHS bed blocking, NHS costs and cancelled operations, not to mention that we are not providing as well as we should for the elderly in our society.
There are a number of contributing factors to the current and growing care of the elderly crisis, including:
- The National Living Wage and consequential differentials;
- The cost of complying with ever increasing Care Quality Commission regulations;
- Low local authority fee levels;
- Increasing levels of dependency of care home residents;
- Continuing nurse shortage;
- Increasing staff agency costs;
- Banking covenant and bank ratio issues;
- New Apprenticeship Levy costs; and
- Potential Brexit implications on funding and staff.
Unfortunately, the (relaunched) Better Care Fund (“BCF”) is just not working well and the new Council Tax Social Care Precept (2%) is simply failing to deliver its expected benefits.
My suggested solution to the care of the elderly crisis is:
1. Put the extra £1.5bn ‘social care’ funding committed to in the last Autumn Statement to better and more efficient use by the Department of Communities and Local Government (“DCLG”) directing it through local authorities rather than the BCF when it becomes available from April 2017;
2. The DCLG establish an ‘all sector’ (including NHS, local authority, voluntary and independent sectors) ‘Cost of Elderly Care’ review to establish a level playing field for elderly care provision, benchmarking current costs across all sectors plus identifying and eliminating unnecessary costs in the sector;
3. This would allow future elderly care costs to be properly monitored to avoid waste, allow better planning for future costs and achieve better value for taxpayer funds, including the £1.5bn soon to be available;
4. Establish an advisory board and possibly also a ‘Bed Blocking Czar’ to advise the Secretary of State on the review and/or oversee the implementation of its findings plus related matters.
With over 25 years’ experience in this sector and a firm belief that something needs to be, and can be done, I would be happy to assist making the solution a reality.
Robert Kilgour is a Scottish serial entrepreneur, investor and property developer who is also Chief Executive of Dow Investments Plc.
Robert founded and built up Four Seasons Health Care (Care Homes and Home Care), and he exited this business after initiating and seeing through the strategy that led to the public/private take-over of Crestacare Plc in the summer of 1999 - a deal which had an Enterprise Value of £127M involving Alchemy Partners.
Four Seasons was then operating 101 care homes throughout the UK (5th largest) and employing over 6,500 staff. It is now UK No.1 with some 460 Homes and over 30,000 staff producing annual revenues of over £750M.