Technology is key to the success of most businesses and the care-home sector is no exception.
In our recent joint survey with leading trade publication, The Carer, we asked care-home directors, owners, managers and staff for their thoughts on the impact technology will have on their sector in the next five years.
Most survey participants acknowledged the need for greater use of technology in the sector – for instance, to increase efficiency and reduce costs. However, they do not envisage the introduction of AI, or robots to replace people led care.
The appliance of technology in the care-home sector
There are three main ways that technology can be used effectively within the care-home sector; clerical, operational and clinical.
On the clerical side, the main area where technology can make most of an impact now and in the next five years, is in further improving information management, for instance through the digital management of care plans.
Technology can also make a difference on the operational side of the business, particularly when it comes to managing budgets.
To drive the profitability of their business all care-home operators need to carefully manage costs and those making effective use of technology are most likely to succeed.
As an example, the use of smart meter and water saving technology can make a material difference to the cost of gas, electricity and water for older generation and converted care homes - the type of home that is not only likely to be energy inefficient but also likely to rely upon local authority fee income at marginal rates. Given utility costs are likely to be the second largest item of expenditure, their careful management can make a material difference to overall profitability.
The Challenge, however, is that those facilities are hard to modernise and things like smart meters are often low on an owner’s list of spending priorities. And there is also the universal business challenge whereby established management teams can be resistant to change. Arguably those who are less open to the use of technology are those which are more likely to fall by the wayside, particularly in a fiercely competitive sector.
The application of technology at clinical level, however, is more focused on improving patient experience. This is where it can make a significant difference to the lives of the people living in a care facility homes. For example, the use of technology in facilities such as sensory rooms has a direct clinical benefit to certain categories of people in care.
People are living much longer than they used to thanks to developments in modern medicine extending life expectancies. This means that the potential timeframe for an individual’s use of residential care is much longer than it used to be leading to a corresponding increase in the demands placed on businesses within the sector. The effective use of technology to enhance the lives of people in care homes, and to support care owners in managing their business successfully, is therefore an important consideration.
Paul Zalkin is a partner and licensed insolvency practitioner at leading business advisory firm Quantuma. Paul has almost 25 years’ experience of working with businesses in a wide range of business sectors helping them overcome financial and operational challenges. During this time Paul has worked with a large number of care homes and has developed unique insight into the challenges they face. Over the last decade Paul has developed a niche in the care home sector and is a go-to adviser for distressed care home operators and their funders. Paul is regularly invited to speak at sector conferences and to share his thoughts with leading trade publications.