Ownacarehome consider How to IMPROVE YOUR CARE HOME OCCUPANCY

Care home occupancy has been returning to pre pandemic levels and in this insight Ownacarehome provide tips to increase care seeker enquiries and conversions.

The Digital Evolution 

Digital is not only for care planning.  As the world around us adapts to escalating AI and new Tools come on board, such as the New Care OBRA Tool, adult social care and the wider care settings are enabled to increase the safety and efficiencies of care settings and services.  The New Care OBRA Tool enables immediate email advice on how a care home can ‘manage their situation and to automatically identify the higher risk situations.’ (Care and Support West). 

Demonstrating proactivity in safety precautions supports the care seeker search who are then more inclined to look at your care provision over another.  Ownacarehome partner Autumna provides the S.A.F.E accreditation for your on line care provider’s profile.  ‘The S.A.F.E badge is displayed on a care provider’s profile, when they choose to provide the infection control information that families need to help them make their elder care decisions.’ 

Using a digital care sector marketing agency such as Prosperwell (formally Smooth Digital), create ‘successful digital marketing strategies, tailored to your audience and your needs.’ 

First Impressions count 

When looking at a care provider’s website and/or eventually attending a viewing of the setting first impressions cannot be underestimated.  Consider how inviting the reception area is, have you continued to offer hand cleaning facilities before going further into the care home, do you have fresh flowers or greenery, showing that you are thinking about the environment, does your entrance make the care seeker and their families feel comfortable, after all visiting a care setting for the first time can be daunting for many since it is a huge step to leave their home environment.   

Online enquiries for care home settings have continued to be the first port of call for many families looking after loved ones with the provider’s website becoming a vital part of their search criteria.  Having good quality visuals of the care home setting including bedrooms and communal areas, a landscaped and/or natural outside area are important for a care seeker and their families to make that next enquiry step to your care home.  Ownacarehome partner, Five on a Bike, demonstrate the importance of professional visuals for your care home setting resulting in an increase in enquiries to your provision leading to increased occupancy and a sustainable care setting for the long term. 

Ownacarehome partner BoConcept Contracts South East provide interior design and sustainable furnishings to showcase your care home in its best light, reflecting the personality of the care home and its environment in a bespoke setting.  Each care home project they look after proactively takes on board the service type and the space needed to be ‘versatile, multifunctional’ ‘full of life and colour to reflect’ the care home provision whether this be nursing, residential, residential dementia, supported and retirement living.  Consideration is also given to the needs of families, friends and staff within the care home setting with attention to the surrounding environment, the fabric and the sustainable finishes. 

Care settings will continue to be asked about their IPC and able to demonstrate continuous improvement in this area.  Keeping up with innovation where you can, remains an important part of a care seeker’s decision making process. 

Sustainability and the Environment 

Sustainability is more than just the environment, it relates to the entire care home business operation from the care home property to the running of the care service including digital policies and processes, supply chains, travel to and from the care home, energy and heat sources, waste management and procurement strategies.  Ownacarehome partner, Advantage Buying, can assist your care home move towards a more sustainable supply chain saving money in the process and improving administration efficiencies. 

Ownacarehome partner, Signature Dining, also champion sustainable food supply chains at the same time as creating diverse and delicious menus catering for all choices. 

As your sustainable and environmental strategies develop over the next few years showcasing your achievements in this area will also help in increasing enquiries to your care home provision.  Examples of outside the box thinking include the use of spare land within your care home setting.  This can include growing your own vegetables, having a sensory garden and wildlife area, all adding to the environmental appeal of a climate friendly care setting.  Showcasing that your care home has started its journey to promote environmental conservation and reduce its carbon footprint will make you stand out increasing care seeker enquiries as well as enhancing staff recruitment and retention. 

In our recent insight with English Oak Care Homes Liam Geach shows how the green transition can enhance your care home within the local community and beyond, appealing to the private and local authority sectors as part of your care home’s referral appeal.  Having mobility accessible landscaping, flower beds and planting areas, promoting biodiversity and an enhanced care home environment.  You may even think about having a composter on site to manage the efficient use of food waste which in turn could generate nutrients for landscape use within the care home setting. 

Within the next decade the move towards electric vehicles will increase.  Care home settings, like English Oak, have already started their conversion toward electric with the provision of electric care charge points for visitors to the setting.  In time another factor improving enquiries to your care home service, ensuring drivers can reach your care home and return to their own homes comfortably, without having to concern themselves about the next available EV charging point. 

The importance of your care home standing within the community cannot be understated, and having a green initiative which becomes central to your personalised care service will enhance your reputation with the care sector regulators such as the CQC as they start to include environmental impacts within their Quality Statements. 

CQC Ratings and the New Approach 

The category of rating can impact the level of and conversion of enquiries to your care provision with the CQC seeking to address the fluidity of its ratings process stating that they wish to achieve: 

  • “A greater focus on care across local areas and systems 

  • To use our new regulatory powers effectively to improve people’s care 

  • To make our regulation less complex and more efficient 

  • To regulate in a smarter way 

  • To work better with the sector as it changes and recovers” 

The CQC’s Quality Statements and Evidence Categories underlying the Five Key Questions will include a rating scoring system so that each care setting can assess more easily where they stand individually and amongst their peers, providing care seekers and their families with ‘an up-to-date view of the quality’ of the care provision with ‘evidence gathered at multiple points in time (not just through inspection).’ 

With the roll out commencing in the South of England from November 2023 moving to a staged roll out to March 2024 only time will tell how this will work in practice with the hope that it will also make care choices easier for those seeking care.  From the end of March 2024, the new approach will be used for all providers, being the same target for at least 80% of care providers to have digitalised their care plans.  Interestingly, the assessment activity ‘will be driven by a combination of planned and responsive work,’ thus continuing the risked based approach as part of the process. 

The CQC is also launching their new provider portal to make provider communications more accessible gradually ‘adding functionality across 2023.’  The aim is to invite all providers to join the portal by March 2024, obtaining system feedback along the way. 

Care home provisions with Requires Improvement or Inadequate will be looking to the fluidity of ratings to move the care provision out of those categories, with some care homes waiting over several years currently for their rating to change despite having evidence from continuous action plans and mock audits from external consultants to portray their improved service.  Time will tell whether the fluidity of CQC ratings will improve a care home’s occupancy. 

Innovation 

Innovation continues to abound in the health and social care sector, and new techniques, such as acoustic monitoring and IPC equipment and cleaning advances, all evidence continuous improvement in these areas which care seekers and their families may have on their list of questions when deciding whether to choose your care home setting.   

Showcasing your care settings innovation through your website and other means all help to make your care home stand out for those all-important care home enquiries, supporting ongoing referrals from staff, volunteers, and people using your services through to the wider community and stakeholders. 

Author Julie Hopkins - Ownacarehome 

For more information contact solutions@ownacarehome.com or complete the contact form at Ownacarehome here.