The start of 2017 has not exactly been very rosy for the UK healthcare industry. There were reports of a “humanitarian crisis” at the NHS, as the number of nurses continues to dwindle while demand for hospital services keep increasing, and government spending on healthcare faces unprecedented cuts. A significant portion of the NHS workforce feel that they are overworked, under-compensated and under-appreciated.

Tough times ahead

Experts claim that the country already has a shortage of several tens of thousands of nurses and this is expected to worsen. 1 out of 5 nurses are expected to retire in the next decade, and a significant number continue to migrate to other countries like the US, Canada and Australia.

Starting August 2017, bursaries for nursing students will be replaced by student loans, a move which is seen to discourage young people from taking up nursing. After all, being burdened by thousands of pounds in student loans is not the best way to start a career in healthcare.

The government will start the process of Brexit this year too, and this spells uncertainty to thousands of nurses and care workers from the EU. Even if the UK were to turn to care professionals from non-EU countries like India, China and the Philippines, they just can’t come in quick enough to fill the shortage. Training regulations, qualification standards, and immigration laws filter out a significant number of willing applicants so only a small percentage make it through.

The care home industry is in for a rough ride too, they say.

Reports claim that one nursing home closes in the UK every week due to the difficulty of finding care staff and due to ongoing budget cuts from local councils. Although there is an increasing demand for beds in care homes due to an ageing population, the challenge stems from finding enough qualified and dedicated care professionals to work in this sector. The rising cost of care and the continued budget cuts do not make it any easier for care home companies too – clearly, a few compromises must be done to make the business work.

More choices, higher quality service for consumers

It’s not all doom and gloom though. As the old adage goes, “With every crisis comes an opportunity”.

Demand for agency services is seen to increase even more in 2017. Quality care and excellent customer service will never go out of style, and in a difficult period such as what we face, this becomes even more valued.

Care home operators and their management team will become more dependent on agency nurses and care assistants, given the challenges of finding and training regular staff. But this does not mean that nursing homes should lower their standards. On the contrary, they should demand more from the healthcare agencies they work with.

With more agencies to choose from than ever before, nursing homes are encouraged to be more selective and to set higher standards when choosing the right agency partner. Home managers should expect a high quality of care at a rate which does not break the bank. For far too long, it appears that agencies can just send anyone to do a shift and the care home is forced to accept any standard of service. This should not be the case.

Delivering a high-quality person-centred care can be achieved at competitive rates with the right partner. We are now in an age where consumers should demand more value for their money given the accessibility of options, thanks in big part to digital technology.

Better choices and better rates are available for almost all the services which have become part of our daily lives:  Amazon and ebay have made the purchase of goods from any part of the world much easier, Netflix delivers great TV content at much lower prices, Spotify does this for music, Airbnb has changed the hospitality industry and Uber revolutionised the global taxi industry.

Change is here and it is here to stay.

Technology per se did not change these industries though, as the human factor is still central to these services. Technology simply made better options much more accessible to consumers and made comparisons among suppliers easier.

Admittedly, the care industry still has a long way to go compared to these industries. However, the same dedication of finding the right service provider should be exercised by care homes every single time they work with an agency.

Service users deserve the best quality care every single time, and it is the duty of nursing homes to spend the right amount of time in evaluating the capabilities of agencies. Selecting the lowest-cost provider or the most popular agency does not cut it anymore in 2017. We all deserve better.

======================

Argante Care is founded on the premise that excellent care can be delivered at competitive rates. We work with highly-qualified and motivated staff who are local to the areas we operate in. This approach allows us to offer attractive fees without compromising service quality. We train our staff ourselves to ensure that every single member share our values and deliver service the “Argante Care way”.

To find out more about us, please email us at hello@argante.care.