Now that lock down is easing and the vaccine roll out continues apace my thoughts turn to the future of social care.
In an earlier article, available here, I discussed resilience. Taking this a step further I will look briefly at how social care may be affected by Green policies and innovation.
During the height of the pandemic digital innovation was accelerated with new, wearable and acoustic technology in an individual’s own home or a care home. This innovation fits the bill of health deterioration prevention as well as reducing carbon footprint. As commissioning starts to look at outcomes as opposed to hours of care for care in the community, digital innovation will increase in its importance.
Digital innovation will enhance the value added skills of a healthcare team as well as change how an organisation thinks and operates. New technology needs to understand the business impact, and pass the viability and credibility test to drive change. So providers will need to be able to demonstrate that new software and equipment works, have pilot test runs and evidence the results before greater market release alongside testimonials. You will also remember to protect your IP.
Investors are getting increasingly tuned in to climate risk and greener technology and energy, so how does this fit in with the care sector?
How ‘green’ a business is may impact in the future on the valuation of a business, albeit EBITDAR and the market multiple model tends to be the current valuation technique for care businesses. Service users of a care provision may start to look deeper at the ethics behind a business offering. Examples being, does a care home use renewable energy, are local suppliers used for food, are electrical vehicles in use, does the care provision offer digital communication, does it have full connectivity and can the care staff assist you in optimising technology?
Greener choices are coming alongside innovation, offering greater choice as part of a care provision will no doubt encourage a wider public outreach and referral line. Having a unique offering encourages more visits to a business website as well as enhancing a reputation.
I would always recommend having a green strategy as well as a digital one, taking your teams with you as the business develops. Be ready for change and practice your business continuity plan taking all aspects into consideration and bringing in an external expert where appropriate.
Capital will mobilise in order to get the best outcome and developers of care homes and retirement and supported living communities are adapting to climate change in their strategies. An interesting concept is the ‘living home’ which looks at bringing nature inside a home as well as outside. An example being ‘living walls of plants.’ Other low environmental impacts include infrared heating panels on a ceiling, each room capable of being temperature controlled, and buildings using recycled material. You could consider what are the options out there for recycled clinical material and do fridges and washing machines emit ozone to keep food fresh and clothes free from bacteria? The list goes on…..
When looking at a care home, prospective residents will be looking for enhanced safety measures as well as visitor access with digital and green innovation enhancing the care provision. At the same time an enhanced environment encourages staff retention and a positive culture.
As to financing of the above, having up to date management information helps, along with projected data. Bank funding is being assisted currently by the Government backed Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) in addition to the traditional loan to value criteria. It is always worth talking to your bank in addition to independent finance brokers and private equity investors.
What can we expect from the future? A growth of care in the community, refurbished and new build care homes collaborating alongside green and innovative supported and retirement living. The social care sector is here to stay and the spotlight must continue to shine on it as we await future funding measures.
The next Albert Goodman care newsletter, due next month, has a focus on green issues and how this impacts the care sector, so please take a look for some further discussions and ideas.