Thoughts ahead of The Care Show
We were sitting around the Fastroi coffee table recently having a discussion about what the next blog topic should be about. In search of inspiration, we took a look at the Care Show conference that we are attending in Birmingham in a few weeks time. One of the topics on the agenda will be about running a commercially sustainable care service. We thought that this would be a really interesting topic to discuss, since we have written quite extensively about various aspects of using tools and technology to make the business of care, more commercially viable.
Riding the Storm
The care sector is faced with numerous issues that, on their own, might contribute to the economic viability of an individual care provider. But when they are combined, they create the conditions for commercial failure. An aging population, rising costs, reduced funding and the rise of the living wage might all work together to make keeping afloat increasingly difficult. One outcome of this difficult environment is the issue of staff retention. Higher staff turnover leads to an increase in the use of expensive agency staff. Finally, the looming shadow that Brexit is casting over the potential to recruit care staff from across Europe makes the situation look bleak.
A Safe Harbour
So what can be done? Just as the causes of commercial difficulties are often connected, so too are the solutions. We will be publishing a white paper during the Care Show that looks at how quality tools and the concepts of Lean Healthcare should be adopted across the care service. We believe that by implementing an integrated care management system and getting the whole organisation understanding the concepts of continuous improvement and reducing waste, the commercial viability of a company can be significantly improved.
Start with “Why?”
If we take as an example, the problem of the amount of money used to hire agency staff. Before we can solve the problem, we must first identify the root cause (or causes) of the problem. Potential root causes could be found by asking a series of ‘Why?’ questions. According to the Kaizen and Six Sigma technique, Asking ‘Why?’ 5 times, should be enough to uncover the root cause of any problem. So for example..
Q.Why do we spend so much money on agency staff?
Because we are short staffed.
Q. Why are we short staffed?
Because someone left and we cannot recruit new permanent staff.
Q. Why did the person leave?
Because they were stressed out juggling the workload and conditions as a single parent while also struggling to make ends meet on minimum wage.
So we can see that even after just 3 ‘Why?’ questions, the answers have become more detailed and we start to see that what started out as a financial problem has now transformed into several deeply connected issues whose root causes may be down to poor management and the use of false economies. So if your care business is faced with a high agency staff bill, maybe you should try to understand what your staff turnover rate is. From that, a good HR practice would be to interview staff who leave to better understand their reasons for leaving. If staff are leaving due to stress, then start to look at ways to reduce the stress by improving working conditions. This could be through the use of technology and improved management for example. Finally, by developing the skills of the staff and rewarding their learning it should be possible to make people want to stay longer, thus reducing the need for agency staff.
As the reputation of the organisation grows, recruitment will become easier and the amount of money spent on agency staff should fall. It doesn’t matter what the organisation is, if the staff are involved in developing solutions to the problems that everyone faces, the working atmosphere will improve. This will in turn have an impact on staff retention.
Simple Tools give Big Results
This is just one example of how the profitability of an organisation can be improved using the simple tools of quality improvement. We believe that our Care Management Software “Real-Time Care” provides care companies with a vital lifeline by automating many of the more mundane tasks they face. Once these tasks are automated, more time is available to focus on solving the bigger issues that might be affecting the business as a whole.
A new White Paper
In our latest White Paper, we discuss how quality tools can be used to identify and break down issues that affect profitability with impressive results. At its most basic level however, solving the problems that affect staff, care users or the way the business runs will deliver the most powerful of outcomes. Staff will feel more connected to the business and will feel more inclined to stay and be part of the improvement. If management don’t take the initiative to solve problems, then it can come as no surprise that the business as a whole will not be as economically viable as it could be.
We will be attending the Care Show in Birmingham on the 9th and 10th of October. Come and visit our stand C23 to find out more about how Real-Time Care used alongside quality tools can improve your business. You can also get a copy of our latest White Paper “Using Lean Thinking to Improve the Processes and the Quality of Care within Care Companies within the Domiciliary Care”.