Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Care Industry in the UK is in a mess

I have been musing about the mess that is the UK industry for the past couple of years. Having worked as a consultant in the industry I know how it works, or doesn’t, from back to front.

I warned a senior member of the Conservative Government, before they were elected, that it would be a major issue for them to resolve.  My warnings fell on deaf ears.

Not surprisingly the bad news keeps on coming and in my mind is turning into an avalanche.

This is my last posting on the subject.

Today’s FT has devoted two pages to the subject. Afraid it is behind a paywall, but you are not going to missing anything since it is a bit of a rehash of previous articles.

Let’s simplify the problems and the opportunities.

Problem 1. Because care was seen as a private equity play, much of the industry is landed with unsupportable amounts of debt. That results in little investment in the infrastructure and zero investment in improving the technology of care services and processes

Problem 2. Local Authorities are doing everything in their power to cut spending on old people. They are cutting the fees paid to care homes, they are making private payers fund those paid for by the state and they doing whatever they can not to put old people into care homes – even if that is where they should be.

Problem 3. There are not enough decent people to work in the care industry. The UK might have zillions of people on the dole but it depends on immigrant labour to run its care homes

Problem 4. The group that should be monitoring and maintaining the quality standards of care is crap. Read the blog posting and listen to the radio programme.

Problem 5. This Government is unprepared for this situation and seems unwilling or incapable of doing anything about it.

But there are opportunities. There are significant numbers of people who want to cutout of this dreadful system and have the money to do so.

Any care provider who does the following will cleanup

  • Don’t take any business from the public sector. This is strictly private only. This will do away with the cross funding and the time wasting of social workers.
  • Adopt the best business practices from the care industry in the US and Australia. There are some great examples of how to do it right.
  • Run the operation with a single focus – delivering first class care. If staff cannot, or are unwilling to do this, they go. None of this nonsense that we have with the NHS and Social Services where ineptitude and idleness is tolerated.

This will result in an expensive but first class service. What we have at the moment is a costly and in the main poor service.

This story is going to run and run. Dick Stroud

1 comment:

Dick Stroud said...

The day after this comment the issue of Southern Cross and it near death experience became political issue. The Labour Party and the trade unions have suddenly discovered the potential of care as something to bash the government.

Before they do this they should remember that it is was on the watch of the Labour Government, funded by the trade unions, that all of the damage to the UK care industry was done. The Conservatives are having to pick up and deal with this mess. If anybody is to blame it is Gordon Brown who encouraged the financial engineering that became the focus of the industry rather than looking after vulnerable old people.