As we gear up for 2022, we asked eight care industry experts what they thought the top challenges and opportunities are for 2022 - all with the goal of educating and inspiring care leaders to tackle this new year.
From our side at Birdie we want this to be an empowering year for the care industry, one where we can all support each other on our mission to improve the lives of older adults, so they can age confidently and vibrantly in the comfort of their own home.
This year, I expect the recruitment challenges to drag on, significantly impacting the way homecare businesses operate. But beyond COVID and wage rises, the problem is more long term: with an average 40% staff turnover and demand soaring while funding stays flat, agencies are experiencing a perfect storm and must adapt. Some of our partner agencies have overcome this thanks to employee recognition programmes, qualification or performance-based pay initiatives, as well as bespoke and personalised training content or better carer experience with new tools and support.
On that last point, it is critical that agencies use 2022 as the year where they go fully digital, not just for the sake of business efficiencies but also to help empower care workers on the ground. This will enable the work force to feel confident about their day-to-day work and ensure they are able to measure and reward carer performance more efficiently and in a fair way.
The massive opportunity we see this year is twofold. The shift in political and public opinion around the care work that’s delivered in the UK, with new emphasis in joining social and health care together and the important role that care has and will continue to have in the coming years means the care sector has the opportunity to leverage this political and public power to achieve important policy victories.
On the other side, the continuous growth of the homecare market, expected to be between 6-9%, and the new funding announced represent a positive momentum. Homecare agencies will continue to grow and be able to take advantage of funding that can unlock new opportunities. The agencies that will succeed in 2022 will be the ones that can leverage this momentum. Additionally, those agencies who are able to run the most efficient business will show the best evidence of their level of care, allowing them to scale their operations in a sustainable way.
Max Parmentier, CEO Birdie Care
What are the top CQC inspection challenges homecare businesses will face in 2022?
- “Top CQC challenges for home care businesses. The possibility that CQC will either not cross the threshold, or reduce the time they spend on site at future inspections. This means home care organisations will need to be clear on their own evidence so they can provide this at short notice electronically. Scanning paper documents is time consuming and inefficient” – Karen Ritson, CIA Lead Care Quality Expert & Mentor
- “In my view it will be ensuring that providers can still demonstrate that they are providing a safe service. The ongoing capacity issues faced by homecare providers will not improve significantly in the first part of 2022 and will certainly be exacerbated by the "no jab, no job policy" for homecare staff from April, with some providers effectively losing an additional 10% of its work force. The safety of services will continue to be negatively impacted and I fear the homecare system,. particularly for local authority funded care, will collapse. The recruitment difficulties in homecare need be addressed now!. Providers are relying more and more on contingency planning to get them through difficult periods of staffing pressures, including RAG rating calls, adjusting visit times , shortening calls , asking family members to help out and cancelling calls where it is deemed safe to do so. CQC's surveillance methodology to get through the current backlog by completing remote inspections will cause some difficulties for providers who may have current "Requires Improvement" ratings, they will have made significant changes to ensure that they are now at least "good". However, the remote method does not allow for ratings to be upgraded, this will (and has) negatively impacted providers in the private market especially” – Martin Ellis, CIA Care Quality Associate
- Meeting safe staffing requirements due to the current shortage in care.- Salinder Sumra, CIA Lead Care Quality Associate
What are the top CQC inspection opportunities homecare businesses will face in 2022?
- “Working in close partnership with CQC , to aid safe outcomes and quality care” - Salinder Sumra, CIA Lead Care Quality Associate
- “Using electronic systems like Birdie to analyse data, patterns and trends to demonstrate good to outstanding outcomes in the Well Led Key Question. This can be shared with CQC easily particularly if they do not visit the site. Using the Be Outstanding software to highlight examples of best practice across the Key Questions to demonstrate outstanding practice across all five, Safe, Effective, Caring, Responsive, and Well Led. Again, this can be shared with CQC easily particularly if they do not visit the site” – Karen Ritson, CIA Lead Care Quality Expert & Mentor
Speaking with Care Managers and Directors every day, it is clear that the recruitment challenges providers are facing are having a direct impact on the quality of care that is provided due to day to day operational tasks falling behind. Care leaders who are looking to boost their recruitment and retention strategies should definitely consider the impact that their CQC rating is having on this. If we can advise one thing, it is to put your Care Quality and Compliance at the top of your agenda. Mock CQC Inspections, internal audits and coaching and mentoring from Care quality experts can give you the booster you need to support your current team, implement action/improvement plans and work towards attracting more staff and clients. CIA Care Quality Associates are working with providers across the UK supporting managers with the day to day tasks such as getting up to date with supervisions, care plans, training etc…. whilst mentoring their teams, helping improve staff morale and have allocated time to spend on recruitment, allowing the manager to concentrate on the day to day running of the service. Whilst there are challenges, it all goes hand in hand and with the right expertise focussed on the right areas, there are opportunities for growth and to improve CQC ratings.
Find out how CIA can help you with next CQC inspection here.
What are the top challenges homecare businesses will face in 2022?
Inadequate staff to meet rising demand for homecare, coupled with inadequate government funding to cover rapidly increasing costs of delivering homecare, are the two greatest challenges facing providers.
Our care workforce has demonstrated exceptional courage and commitment during the COVID-19 pandemic. When other professionals including GPs, district nurses, social workers, housing managers and CQC inspectors were working remotely, homecare workers continued to visit people in their own homes every day, providing a lifeline to many. Careworkers do not, however, feel valued by society as a whole.
Shortage of staff in sectors such as retail and hospitality is leading to rapid wage inflation as businesses compete for workers. Careworkers have realised they can receive more money for fewer hours, with less responsibility, in supermarkets and hotels, and in some areas are leaving in droves.
On top of this, the government has decided to impose vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of deployment in homecare. Currently, almost 25% of the homecare workforce have yet to be double-vaccinated. If this does not change before 1 April 2022 when the regulations come into force, we could lose a further 100,000 homecare workers to jobs where vaccination is not required.
Demand for homecare is already out-stripping supply and we have continued to raise concerns about the potential risk of harm to older and disabled people of unmet need due to worsening staff shortages. The government has no contingency plan for dealing with a potential loss of regulated homecare for over 100,000 older and disabled people. Who will care for them? How will councils and the NHS cope with the fallout?
The Homecare Association strongly supports vaccination of the homecare workforce as it helps to protect those receiving and giving care from serious illness. From the outset, though, we have argued that persuasion is likely to be more effective than compulsion in encouraging uptake among the remaining workers with genuine fears about vaccination, without losing vital workforce capacity. We feel it's very important to balance the mitigated risk of infection with the risk of unavailability of care at home for highly dependent older and disabled people.
What are the top opportunities homecare businesses will face in 2022?
As already mentioned, demand for homecare is rising. As we live longer, many with multiple complex needs, there is a real opportunity for providers to expand services to enable us all to live well at home and flourish in our communities.
Not only are numbers of older and disabled people continuing to increase, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more people choosing support and care at home rather than in congregate settings. The main drivers for this are a desire for greater choice and control over the way we live, as well as reduced risk of infection, in our own homes.
Whilst increased interest in homecare is positive, inadequate staff to meet current and projected needs means we will have to change our approach to shift the demand curve.
New models of support and care, combined with new technology solutions and data science, offer opportunities to encourage healthier lifestyles, prevent deterioration, personalise support and care, and improve outcomes. This will require a radical change in the way care is funded, commissioned and purchased.
Jane Townson, CEO, Homecare Association
Homecare Association is the UK’s membership body for homecare providers. Together we ensure that homecare is valued so that everyone can live well at home and flourish within their communities. To learn more click here.
What are the top recruitment challenges homecare businesses will face in 2022?
Given 2021 was packed full of recruitment surprises for the homecare sector (mostly nasty ones), it’s a brave person who confidently predicts what we will face in 2022. However, there are some headwinds we know about already and others we can take an educated guess at:
- Cost of living increases look set to cause financial stress for lower income households and may push homecare workers to look outside the sector for alternative employment, of which there is no shortage. Energy prices rises and National Insurance increases are just two of those. Ironically the NI levy is to help Social Care sector but will hit its workforce harder than most. National Living Wage increases to 6.6% which will hit providers’ margins, but, as it applies to all sectors, doesn’t help make homecare more attractive. Right now, we have to assume no meaningful long term funding increases, but see the Opportunities section below for a counter-view
- April – Mandatory Vaccinations for homecare workers come into force. Employers will be taking some pain on this already, as new recruits will need to be committing to vaccination if they haven’t had it already, but 1st April will be a difficult day and will increase pressure to replace exiting staff
- There is no end in sight for the labour market shortage, so expect recruitment to continue to be pressurised for much of, if not the whole year, especially when you consider the increase in demand for homecare services and the aggressive hiring tactics of substitute sectors
- We know that staff turnover in Homecare is worsening fast, partly driven by mandatory vaccinations, partly by exhaustion and partly by systemic issues such as pay. This means a greater pressure to recruit to replace leavers and grow the workforce capacity to respond to rapidly increasing demand.
What are the top recruitment opportunities homecare businesses will face in 2022?
It’s not all doom and gloom. The tightening labour market and drop in internet job board applicants has forced homecare recruiters to review their sourcing strategy. This is a real positive as an over-reliance on job boards has been responsible for higher staff turnover in the first 90 days of employment for over 20 years. Here’s my top tailwind predictions for the year:
- The Government recently added care workers to the migration shortage occupation list. This is very welcome news, although it remains to be seen if the current 12-month limit will entice migrant workers. It also comes with a cost and admin burden to the employer
- In mid-December last year, the Department of Health and Social Care announced a further £300M fund for retention and recruitment on top of the £162.5M previously announced. This means there is almost half a billion pounds finding its way into the system to support employers recruit and retain.
- Throughout 2022, I anticipate we will see more homecare recruiters tapping into the passive job seeker market in their local communities – reacting to the drop in applications from internet job boards. This will result in a new flow of previously undiscovered candidates sourced from local social networks – most importantly via employees referring their friends, but also asking ex-employees to return, outreach to clients’ families and community partnerships
- The recent White Paper ‘People at the Heart of Care’, put homecare front and centre of social care reform in the next 10 years. Whilst it received a lukewarm welcome from social care leaders, there were pots of money announced which could ease the pressure on recruitment, such as £500M on training and qualifications, which could attract more people into the sector, and £150M on technology adoption. In terms of direct impact on supporting recruitment, we hope there will be support for innovations such as the Care Friends employee referral app, which I developed in partnership with Skills for Care, if that isn’t too self-serving!
So, whilst on balance we should expect continued pressures when recruiting homecare workers throughout this year, there is much providers can do to mitigate this by changing the way they source staff to reach new pools of labour. Ultimately, the homecare sector is too important to the functioning of the NHS to allow it to fail, so I wouldn’t rule out more significant governmental support in either policy changes or funding before 2022 is done.
Neil Eastwood, CEO Care Friends
If you would like to know more about Care Friends and how they can help you with carer recruitment visit their website here.
What are the top council tender challenges homecare businesses will face in 2022?
The new government levy to help fund social care isn’t triggered for another year, so Local Authorities will continue to have budgets squeezed. This means the hourly price paid for homecare will be under huge pressure. Homecare businesses will find it increasingly difficult to deliver services at rock-bottom prices and we will see growing instances of providers handing contracts back to the council because they simply can’t make it work. One of the top challenges for homecare providers in 2022 will be identifying contracts that offer realistic funding rates.
This feeds into another of the biggest issues, attracting and retaining staff – how can they offer competitive wages on so little money? On top of that, council tenders demand social value and environmental commitments – some of which have cost implications for providers. Finally, the challenge of delivering homecare in a pandemic will continue in 2022 – council tenders demand homecare businesses to be CQC registered, and COVID-19 has altered the way compliance is monitored with greater emphasis on continual assessments such as PIR. Regulation has become more remote and this has led to increased admin for already stretched Registered Managers. Piling on top of the compliance
paperwork comes risk assessments, contingencies and expensive infection prevention and control measures - add it all together and you’ve got a challenging picture for homecare businesses seeking council contracts in 2022.
What are the top council tender opportunities homecare businesses will face in 2022?
COVID-19 has accelerated the government’s move towards increased homecare provision.
Homecare is cheaper to deliver for councils than care home provision so we should expect a broader scope of opportunity in this type of care delivery. Innovation will be at a premium and councils will be keen to see evidence of new care models and efficiencies that deliver results hopefully to reduce time and task-based commissioning, and further promote moves towards outcome-based models of care across the board. If you are clear in your strategic aims, careful about selecting the right contracts, focus on good hourly rates and protect your margins, tendering for homecare contracts remains the single most effective way of growing your care business in the current climate.
Peter Hamilton, Director Insequa
Find out how Insequa can support you on your next council tender here.
What are the top marketing challenges homecare businesses will face in 2022?
In 2022, homecare providers will need to ensure that they have a firm hold of both recruitment marketing and private client marketing. Without this, homecare businesses will struggle and potentially face lots of stopping and starting which will inevitably mean they will be stuck with either too many private clients and not enough staff or too much staff but not enough private clients. We have many homecare clients that want to increase their private weekly hours but their limiting factor is often recruitment. So it’s very clear that they need a sort of twin-turbo marketing engine, a strategy that allows them to acquire both private clients and staff simultaneously, solving the chicken and egg problem of private clients and staff.
What are the top marketing opportunities homecare businesses will face in 2022?
In 2022, there will definitely be a growing demand for homecare. More and more people are wanting and considering homecare as an option. We have seen a huge increase in the amount of people searching for homecare on Google Trends and the general public are becoming more aware of homecare and its benefits. The ageing population is growing and especially post pandemic, people are realising that they perhaps don’t want the confines of care homes and they’d prefer to be in their own environment, with their own things, near their families. Because more people are and will be searching, there is a big opportunity to make the most of Google and Bing Ads, which is typically where people search for homecare services. This will allow you to show your message to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
Tobi Alli-Usman , Founder & Managing Director Smooth Digital
If you want expert marketing advice for your homecare agency and learn how Smooth Digital can help you, click here.
Top recruitment challenges for homecare businesses in 2022
- The competition for great care workers remains high and the job boards are reviewing their services and costs.
- The average ‘person on the street’ doesn’t know how rewarding a care role can be and how it could work around their life (unlike other competing roles).
- Due to the many and varied daily pressures in a homecare company, its recruitment process may be buckling. Or their recruiting process may not be keeping pace with new job seeker needs and behaviours.
Top recruitment opportunities for homecare businesses in 2022
- Act fast. We always aim to speak to candidates within the first 24 hours of their application (this may take up to six attempts) and aim to schedule the interview within 24-48 hours. Our record so far? A Facebook applicant clicked on a role at 09:10, we spoke to them at 09:30, they were interviewed at 16:00 and had signed a contract by 17:00.
- Keep applicants engaged. It takes time for new starters to be onboarded, especially if you’re waiting for DBS checks and references. During this time applicants are at risk of being ‘diverted’ by another company or even an unshared worry (that a friendly chat could straighten out). Keep in touch with, for example, a welcome card, regular phone calls, adding them to team Whatsapp groups, starting shadow shifts or offering online training etc.
- Show your team how much they mean to you. If your current team feel appreciated, by you and your managers, it is picked up by prospective or new hires. Investment in motivation and morale results in increased retention and word-of-mouth PR about what it’s like to work at your company. A virtuous circle that we offer help with here.
Scott Sherriden, Founder & Managing Director - Purpletribe
If you want to know how Purpletribe can help you with your recruitment challenges visit their website here.
Have your say
Do you have any additional challenges or opportunities that your homecare business is facing? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll collate them and share them on this blog post!