As Care Homes begin to better understand what the post-pandemic world looks like, Braemar Finance commissioned wide-ranging independent research to determine how Care Home owners are dealing with the new challenges facing businesses, ranging from coping with rising costs to filling the skills gap.
Despite the many setbacks Care Homes have experienced during the past 18 months (and more), positivity about their future prospects is running very high among Care Home owners, with only 1% pessimistic; 13.5% are ‘very optimistic’ and a further 75% ‘somewhat optimistic’ about what the coming months will hold.
From a turnover perspective, 91.5% of Care Homes expect their income to either ‘significantly’ (29.5%) or ‘somewhat’ (62%) improve – only 7% think it will stay the same with just 1.5% saying it will decline.
Government loan schemes
Care Homes are equally as bullish about being able to repay their Government loans, with 94.5% either ‘very’ (26.5%) or ‘somewhat’ (68%) confident about being able to make their repayments; only a small minority (3%) are unsure.
It’s instructive to note every Care Home that took part in the research participated in at least one of the government-backed loan schemes.
The Care Home sector had to remain open – with well-publicised careful restrictions in place - during much of the pandemic, helping and serving their clients, which is testament to both the resilience and professionalism of the sector.
Despite the skills shortage being felt in the industry, Care Homes are bullish about their investment plans, with a strong response to our question ‘are you considering investing in your business in the next 12 months’ – 83.5% answered ‘yes’.
But what will Care Homes be investing in? A lot, as it turns out, ranging from hiring additional staff and capital equipment to refurbishments (we asked respondents to select all options that applied):
Care Homes are largely unconcerned about accessing the funds their business needs for investment in the next 12 months – 98.8% are either ‘very’ (16%) or ‘somewhat’ (83%) confident of getting hold of the finance they need.
Rising fuel and inflation
In spite of the positivity about their prospects and accessing funds, nearly all (96%) of Care Homes surveyed expressed significant concern about the impact rising fuel prices and the increase in inflation will have on their clients' incomes.
When borrowing for general business purposes, Care Homes have a number of main priorities when selecting who to borrow from with the most important being ‘a lender with the lowest rates’, very closely followed by ‘a lender with strong brand and reputation for customer service’ and ‘a lender that provides personal, face-to-face service’.
The wide variety of equipment needed by Care Homes can be a significant capital expense and a key decision is which supplier to choose. We asked Care Home operators what was most important when making this choice – and it was a close-run thing, with ‘personal service’ edging out ‘value for money’.
Filling the skills gap
Much has been said and written about filling the skills gap in the UK’s labour market – including in Care Homes - with 84% concerned about attracting employees to their business.
Tax bills can be, for many firms, difficult to afford – 82.5% of Care Homes surveyed said they expect to need to borrow funds to pay their 2022 tax bill, the highest of any profession surveyed.
It is well known the pandemic affected many people’s mental health, and our own research strongly supports these findings – it’s instructive to note only 3% of respondents stated: ‘during the pandemic my mental health has not been impacted’.
Care Homes are also convinced about the proven creative and associated financial benefits of a diverse workforce with 91% of survey participants agreeing.