The care sector as a whole has come under pressure to ensure that services are not only maintained but are ready to grow and improve as the rising numbers of elderly and those requiring additional care and support grows. The concerns over Brexit affecting staffing levels as and when the full effects of the transition periods and legalities settle down have led many care homes and providers of home care services to look closely at recruitment policies and how they can keep up the staff levels needed to ensure safe operation if the number of EU workers declines.
A Changing Market
Market conditions have changed considerably over 2020 as a result of us leaving the confines of the EU and the Covid-19 pandemic causing staffing constraints across the entire sector. Care home admission inquiries and referrals have reduced, yet there has been an upturn in live-in care and supported living requirements.
There will be an increase in demand for care home places, as well as supported care at home over the next year or so. With demand growing as more people are assessed when lockdown restrictions, self-isolating, and shielding measures end. Currently, a large number of those needing care are having their needs met by furloughed family and this has seen the usual steady need for care places reduce, as a family step in.
As we progress through 2021, the vaccine rollout continues and furlough schemes end, we will see unpaid and furloughed carers gradually return to the workplace. As they return to work the need to seek suitable care for their loved one will arise, and live-in care is likely to be seen as a suitable choice. The roll-out of the vaccine will see increased confidence in society and demand in the care sector will rise and is likely to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Differing needs for care
There will also be more medical assessments and routine procedures being carried out which will see a need for some short term care provision, in-home carers are often chosen as an alternative to rehabilitation centers or temporary care homestays. Businesses need to be ready to meet these demands. Having a business that is planning and ready, requires them to be innovative and address business contingencies and sustainability.
All care providers will as a result of both Brexit and the pandemic need to strengthen their risk governance. The effects of PPE shortages throughout the early stages of the pandemic has highlighted the importance of having multiple supply lines and perhaps a need to be less reliant on supplies from abroad, which will now likely see additional import costs as a result of post-EU legislation.
There is also the risk that we may again see disruption to supply lines caused by border issues should a further lockdown or tightening be enforced. The need to import supplies will require more consideration and possible costs for post-EU trade. Care sector businesses should visit their risk and contingency planning more frequently, monthly is now advised, alongside real-time cash flow forecasting, to ensure that businesses are able to react quickly and remain financially agile at short notice.
Rising insurance costs alongside rising IPC costs, the additional challenges of supply lines, and the need to review services have cost the care industry dearly. Many have needed to update technology and refurbish buildings, not least to provide additional storage for the extra supplies required to provide greater and more regular hygiene control, but also the provision of larger rooms to enable social distancing or visitor pods and IT equipment.
Government changes post Brexit
Import and customs duties may now be payable on goods imported, and a requirement to check that the business sending the goods to you is able to export them from their country. Additional licenses or certificates may now be required by both parties to import goods to the UK or risk that they will be held-up or detained on arrival, an inconvenience at best that may lead to additional unwanted cost.
Where you are seeking to import human medicines, controlled drugs, or hazardous chemicals you may need to obtain special licenses or certificates prior to import.
The social care sector has relied heavily on staffing from the EU and with the aftermath of the transition period and moving onto the new requirements for EU nationals to live and work in the UK, there has been great concern that for some time to come we could be faced with staffing shortages. There is seen to be a risk that senior care workers and other skilled roles will fall short of any criteria set for access to work in the UK, as virtually none of the jobs meet the required salary threshold. The concern that it will take a listing on the shortage occupations list to allow immigration for these roles, has led to care sector businesses seeking to recruit from within the UK. This is inevitably leading to a focus on targeting recruitment throughout the UK workforce.
The need to offer training and opportunities to those already permitted to work in the UK, has, perhaps, been boosted by the unfortunate rise in unemployment caused by the pandemic. The government is calling for businesses to focus heavily on recruiting domestic workers and the need to reduce the rising unemployment.
This presents opportunities for those in the care home sector to offer attractive career progression through training and mentoring and to review staffing structures, consider team well-being and job satisfaction. Retaining existing staff is now more important than ever, to avoid potential recruitment issues, consistency of staff ultimately benefits those in receipt of care.
Live-in care is a sector that benefits highly from the consistency of staff, the individuals receiving care have a very personal relationship with their chosen carer, and businesses that retain staff will be able to offer them the security of staff and reinforce the opinion of live-in care being an ideal alternative to care homes. The pandemic also has seen live-in care as a safer way to have loved ones’ needs met, without additional restrictions that have been necessary for those in residential care homes.