OPINION: Improving spend and efficiency without sacrificing quality of care

Judy Boniface-Chang, chief customer officer at Birdie, the intelligent platform for homecare, explains “how care businesses [can] enhance their quality of care with minimal financial support”.


The home care sector is facing an efficiency crisis. With a rapidly ageing population, the demand on the UK care sector is becoming more overwhelmed by the day.

This year, a Local Government Association report found that one in every three local councils is no longer confident that it can meet its basic legal duties towards elderly residents, mainly due to capacity and efficiency challenges. Something needs to be done and the arguably ‘broken’ system must be strengthened and rectified. 

Unfortunately, this problem won’t disappear overnight and despite several governments promising reforms and funding to ‘fix social care’ for good, it looks unlikely the government will step in to save the day. Consequently, the current inefficiency in the sector runs the risk of continuing, leaving home care businesses having to figure it out themselves.

So, how can care businesses enhance their quality of care with minimal financial support?

Save time by digitising records

For home care providers, the first step should be to optimise operations to reduce time spent on lengthy administrative processes. Over half of social care professionals still work with paper records, which increases the chance of delay, error, and heightened frustration. New digital technologies can offer countless opportunities for home care providers to improve their operational efficiency. For example, by digitising all record-taking, information becomes easier to manage and share between staff. Utilising smart technology in your home care business can also facilitate a more personalised, proactive approach since insights about clients’ requirements are easier to extract and prepare for.

However, technology cannot be simply applied as a blanket solution across the sector. Every care business knows that administration is the backbone of their work, it pays off to spend time ensuring that data is tracked efficiently and wisely. Care businesses should assess what they need from their technology and the time they have to put a system in place, before spending time and money on solutions that might not work for their practice.

Facilitating effective scheduling and communication 

Home care is known for having plenty of moving parts and quickly changing priorities. While all care businesses are sure to have a scheduling and communications process in place, outdated practices can create more issues than they solve, such as overbooking, missed appointments, and lengthy travel times. 

An electronic scheduling system can streamline processes, allowing carers to view changing schedules on-the-go. Many scheduling systems now include automated algorithms to optimise rosters based on the location of workers, and the skills available.

Scheduling systems and digital records can aid communication between staff to ensure that care is continuous. Both the care coordinators and the carers can feel confident that technology has helped plan the visit appropriately, and tracked the key medication and tasks for each client to share it with the relevant individuals. For carers, spending less time on travelling and communicating with the office staff provides more time to focus on care delivery. For office staff, having real-time visibility on clients’ needs and concerns, as well as knowing that the client’s family members have access to the same information, simplifies communication between all parties. 

Standardising care protocols to enhance routine care

For care businesses that have already updated their technology solutions, implementing a standardised visit protocol can be a game-changer for care businesses. Having a set of critical components for each care visit not only ensures that carers consistently perform essential tasks that lead to better care outcomes but also allows the carers to build familiarity and confidence around care routine so they can focus more on the client rather than figuring out what needs to be done.  

In summary, in order to run a robust care business, enhancing efficiencies is key. While there are lots of constraints, there are still many opportunities to do things better without compromising on the quality of care. Although changing the habit and status quo of doing things might be daunting, it can also bring many potential upsides. Ultimately, by dismantling barriers to efficiency in the sector, care businesses have the power to enable carers to prioritise what truly matters — delivering enhanced quality care and benefiting the community.

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