Operational Resilience in the Social Care Sector

As the vaccine roll out in the UK continues and the care sector responds, I thought it appropriate to look at how the sector will continue to evolve and take on board lessons from the Pandemic and opportunities ahead.

So where does the sector go now?  A vital area to consider is resilience and continued innovation.  Operational resilience is a key strategic goal for any business, and it is important when preparing business continuity plans to ensure policies and procedures are inbuilt to reduce the likelihood and impact of disruption.

In an ideal world it is better to prevent a situation than having to respond to it, and Covid-19 has shown us that we need to be Pandemic ready.  Schools of thought see the increased longevity of humans and our interaction with the environment as an evolving situation, where future scenarios will challenge us in the future as Covid-19 has.  So next time we need to be in a greater state of readiness, and the care sector will continue to adapt and innovate to be ready to tackle the unknown threats.

The Pandemic has brought operational resilience into sharper focus and it is likely that regulators (and stakeholders) will be taking a strong interest.

So, what is meant by operational resilience?  It is having the means to act quickly and recover from a particular situation within an assessment of risk.  The ultimate outcome of resilience is maintaining continuity of key services and protecting your teams as well as your service users.

When you’re looking forward at business continuity and perceived risks, try and carry out scenario planning and stress test for disruption.  This should include staffing agility measures and impacts upon financial performance.  It is here that digital innovation and evolution has a high impact on the provisioning of care, in addition to having real time cloud bookkeeping and payroll processes linked to digital rota and invoicing software.

When assessing business scenarios, you should take into account operational risk, business continuity and disaster recovery, in order to limit disruption as far as possible. You should also consider a financial buffer for resilience in this area.

In conclusion I have summarised a checklist of key resilience measures:

  • Review your supply chain and any outsourced function risk
  • Build up bank staff
  • Commit to continuous training and development
  • Obtain regular team and relative feedback, input to action plans
  • Revisit performance and development objectives
  • Revisit crisis management and communication plans
  • Keep your security up to date, information, cyber and data protection
  • Review your incident response plans
  • Demonstrate safe and effective care
  • Evidence continuous improvement
  • Revisit staff wellbeing strategy and feedback for improvement
  • Revisit extended community and stakeholder outreach
  • Evidence the quality of care service in readiness for the CQC’s regular ratings review as part of their five year strategy
  • Ensure real time, up to date management information, including operational financials and cashflow forecasts
  • Regularly revisit your risk management and compliance procedures
  • Link your risk appetite to the business strategy
  • Assess key performance indicators monthly &
  • Carry out benchmarking and covenant requirements

My tip is to treat the resilience plan as a continued work in progress, to be revisited often with regular feedback from team members and stakeholders.

The social care sector, with its wide outreach, has demonstrated resilience during the Pandemic, and as the vaccine roll out continues to take effect and public confidence returns, providers need to be ready to offer a continuously improving service, fit for purpose for the decades ahead as the population longevity increases and needs change.  Look at the horizon, be forward looking at all times and adapt as the care sector changes in a post Pandemic world.

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