Buyacarehome & Ownacarehome look back at key areas in 2023 impacting the care home sector

The rollout of the CQC’s new assessment framework has started and will continue to gain momentum, evolving and requesting feedback from care providers.  Care providers and consultants alike are monitoring the impact on the care sector with the ‘up-to-date view of quality’ (CQC).  Delivery of safe, good quality care achieving best outcomes in an increasingly complex and ageing society remain key. 

Through our unique insight into the care home sector at Buyacarehome and Ownacarehome we look back at the key impacts of 2023: 

CQC’s Single Assessment Framework 

Ratings and the five key questions remain being: 

  • Is your care service Safe? 
  • Is your care service Effective? 
  • Is your care service Caring? 
  • Is your care service Responsive? 
  • Is your care service Well led? 

Underpinned by the ‘I and We Quality Statements’ replacing the key lines of enquiry (KLOEs), with six new evidence categories building up information underneath the Quality Statements

The CQC will be using a diversified range of information to assess a provider’s service using smarter ways of working as an extension to how they assessed a service during the pandemic era with greater use of technology in addition to more frequent collation and review of data.   

In essence ratings can be updated at any time.  How this will work in practice will be monitored closely by the care sector.  Care home providers will be focussing even more attention on how people use their services, how their team’s work capacity is impacted and how their marketing profiles are maintained and enhanced in order to encourage care seeker enquiries. 

We are already seeing care service updates on particular key questions highlighted as a ‘review’ with no further action at that time if there are no indications that the service requires further attention.  The CQC has already emphasised that on site inspections of care services will continue, examples being a new care home registration or an area of concern. 

The independent mortgage broker team at Chandler&Co will be looking at how the new ‘scoring’ policies by the CQC will impact the care home sector’s valuation and funding criteria as they collate information to support care home finance applications to the wider lending platforms in 2024. 

Digital evolution 

The world around us including the care home and wider care sector is increasingly evolving with the march of emerging life science technology to assist a more complex society, encompassing all generations of care from newborns to the elderly and supported living. 

Remembering the past there was hardly any technology in sight (yes that very first email when we thought ‘this won’t take off’) to the first iPad and Nurse Call system and the evolution of pain diagnosis and robotics in medical procedures!   

How times have changed, and now we are seeing an increasing uptake in electronic care planning software integrated with NHS Connect, enabling care staff to evidence the varied aspects of care encouraging preventative and diagnostic care.  Passing a digital eRedbag from your care home to the ambulance teams is already enhancing the caring journey.  Even those hospital discharges which have not quite completed all their paperwork will help the care teams with a much smoother transition from hospital to care home. 

We are a society of instant information with ‘google’ and other platforms to hand.  Never have we had so much information at our finger tips which in turn means that there is greater expectation of care services from care seekers, their families and friends, and third parties alike.  Add this into the CQC’s single assessment framework and the pressure of instantaneous information will increase.  How this will impact the already stretched caring teams remains to be seen. 

There is no doubt that the live monitoring of care can only enhance a care service, thus care home providers who remain on a paper based system will have even more work to do when providing evidence to the Regulator.   

The Government has set a target of 80% of care providers to adopt digital technology by March 2024 seeing it as a way to improve the quality of care and reduce administrative tasks, enabling more carer time with the people they look after. 

Digital connections can go beyond care planning with an increasing number of software platforms providing eMAR, wellbeing & activity platforms, wellbeing support for the care teams, digital reception increasing live reviews, asset maintenance programmes enhancing care home property and equipment safety management, and avoidance of noisy call bells with responsive on call nursecall systems. 

Funding for digital social care records 

A reminder if you are thinking about going digital, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is continuing to provide funding through the ‘Adult Social Care Digital Transformation Fund’ as we move into 2024. 

You are recommended to contact your ‘local Integrated Care System (ICS) to assess your funding needs. 

Social Care Funding Challenge 

Announced in December 2023, a £64bn funding package to support local councils to deliver frontline services, is heralded as not going far enough for 2024/25 with cumulative underfunding going back decades and the care sector having to recover from the pandemic impact with occupancy just about recovering to pre pandemic levels, dealing with the ramifications of the cost of living crisis and looking ahead to changes in immigration already starting to have an impact and an increase in the National Minimum Wage effective from April 2024.   

And yet demand for social care services as we all know continues to increase.   

“So how are care home providers stepping up to the challenges across the UK?” 

With our unique insight into the care home sector across the UK at Buyacarehome and Ownacarehome, regularly talking to businesses who support the sector, alongside care home business owners we have an overview of what makes a successful and sustainable care home business.  Whether you are at the start of your care home business journey, scaling up or considering exit key areas to consider include: 

Net Zero and what lies ahead for the care home sector? 

A question that is increasingly asked is how the care home sector is preparing for net zero? 

From our overview at Buyacarehome and Ownacarehome here are some highlights: 

  • It has been reported that 2023 has been the hottest year on record with a greater risk of flooding in certain areas across the UK 
  • Climate change is going to be included in ongoing conversations in the care home sector 
    • The impact on residents and staff and their well being 
    • The impact on care home property 
      • Retrofits for older buildings to improve energy efficiency 
      • Green designs for new builds and extensions 
      • Sustainable and fit for purpose care home services 
      • The current and future lending impact 
  • Future impact of a green strategy on a care home business valuation 
  • Care home businesses assessing the easy green wins to reduce operating costs 
    • Reducing energy usage 
      • Assessing risk mitigation from pricing volatility 
    • Managing waste  
    • Revisiting food procurement 
    • liaising with consultants such as Advantage Buying 
  • Starting to assess the care home’s supplier chain 
    • You can start asking a supplier what their net zero commitment is? 
  • Care home owners revisiting their care home portfolios for a future proof strategy 
  • An increasing interest in the retirement living housing market as an ageing population seeks to downsize or help the next generation onto the housing market 
  • Increased investment in technology and processes within care home development 

The green journey is just starting for many in the care home sector and one that will be evolve further during 2024 as greener care homes are developed and thoughts translate into action.  Eventually we can expect to see mandatory disclosure on carbon footprints for all businesses and having a climate strategy will start the care home on its sustainable path. 

Autumna have started a Go Green initiative and you can find out more here.

As a care home owner there will always be challenges, as is common with many businesses, but what we do know is that demand for care services has never been greater and the needs of an increasingly complex society will continue to gain momentum, with escalating demand for care home beds and care in the community going hand in hand across the UK. 

Author Julie Hopkins 

For Care Home business solutions, visit Ownacarehome and Buyacarehome to find out more about how the partners can support you.