Care home operators need to consider taking a series of measures in order to recover from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Many homes have been severely impacted over the past 12 months and are now seeking ways to drive new enquiries and occupancy levels.
Maxine Parry, Regional Director of Caresolve, one of the UK’s leading care home consultancies, which is headquartered in Warrington, said that trust will be a vital part of any new strategy.
She said: “One of the big challenges for homes during the pandemic was coping with the fallout from people worried about putting loved ones into care homes.
“We’ve got to start building up confidence again with families. In the private sector, families make a conscious decision to put a loved one in a home. Over the past year, we know that many have been thinking, is it safer to keep an elderly relative at home?
“Going forward, care homes are going to have to think creatively so they can stand out from competitors.”
Caresolve has identified a number of key measures that care homes need to consider.
1. Stand out from the crowd and consider what makes your home special. Differentiate yourself from local competitor homes, so you can really stand out. Examples could include using local produce in home cooked meals, the whole dining experience, offering interesting and engaging activities, increased engagement with the community, enhancing the look of the home both internally and externally and post—Covid-19, offering regular and varied trips out for residents.
2. Consider the customer experience when they connect with you – whether that’s the first telephone call, an email request for more information or their first experience of the home when they come and visit – either in person or via a remote tour. Creating good first impressions is essential.
3. Consider innovative ways to show a person around the home – informative and engaging online tours and videos are the future.
4. Consider again your fee structure. Pre-Covid-19, a home may have had a significant proportion of privately-funded residents. Sadly, many of these residents may now have been lost to Covid and some increased flexibility around your fees may be required, in order to assist in building occupancy levels again.
5. Make sure you have robust procedures in place and that you are well-versed in the infection control measures you have implemented at your home. Any prospective family members are now highly likely to press you on how you will keep their loved ones safe from any infection – not just Covid. We believe there will be vastly increased scrutiny of care homes going forward, and people will require in depth evidence of what you are doing to limit spread of infection and the procedures you have in place. It is imperative that you are able to answer them reassuringly, knowledgably and with evidence.
6. Think about how you market your home in this new Covid-19 world – now is the perfect opportunity to look at your website, your social media, PR messaging and marketing collateral like leaflets and brochures.
7. Encourage all staff to get vaccinated. Some care home staff have refused to have the Covid-19 vaccine as they’re unsure about side effects. However, this brings with it significant potential challenges to managers and providers, particularly in regard to staff sickness levels and reliance on agency. It is therefore key that homes achieve as high a take up of the vaccine amongst their staff teams as possible.
Caresolve was established in 2011 by experienced care sector professionals Ben Challinor and James Parkin.
The company provides strategic and operational support to care home operators and their investors including undertaking management contracts. The team also has extensive experience in achieving the successful turnaround of numerous care homes.
Caresolve also has a dedicated financial arm, Caresolve Financial, headed up by fellow director Richard Shore, providing financial reviews and management services and Finance Director support.