People in a care home

The challenges faced by businesses in the care sector

07 December 2023    |    By: Nathan Bentley

Businesses in the care sector have extra responsibilities when it comes to providing the right care, not just for their clients, but for their people and staff too. That’s why for businesses like care homes and other social care providers, getting the right business insurance in place is crucial for ensuring continuity if something goes wrong.

The turbulent times faced by care businesses over the past couple of years has made things harder than ever before and that’s why alongside their insurers, care businesses are having to navigate new and very real challenges which can mean the impact of an uninsured event is amplified significantly across the business.

Specialist care home insurance providers such as Markel are investing in researching the new challenges faced by the care sector to better understand the risks presented to business owners. This insightful report delves into the details of some recent findings by Markel which help insurers better understand how and why the challenges faced by the care sector are shifting so much. 

People in a care home

It goes without saying that one of the worst hit industries  of the COVID-19 pandemic was the care sector. Almost four years later the impact of the virus is still being felt industry wide and has meant that care businesses have had to totally transform the way they operate.

This has affected everything, from the way families are able to visit care homes to the care that is provided to patients and clients. Infection control is of the utmost importance and staff workloads are seemingly increasing as a result. In a survey conducted by Markel, 51% of respondents believe that COVID-19 and its after effects are having the biggest impact on the UK’s ability to provide social care at the moment.

Participants of the survey* believe that the current biggest impacts of COVID-19 include:

  • Infection and protection controls
  • A large increase in demand for domiciliary care
  • Additional measures are taking funding from own resources
  • High levels of staff sickness
  • A negative view of the care sector in the media
  • It’s apparent that despite the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic being behind us, the effect it has had on the care industry is very much still present and is continuing to cause issues for those who work at or run businesses in the care sector.

  • *This research included a 20-question quantitative survey of 200 senior decision makers and executives who work within the care sector.
  • The cost-of-living crisis has spanned UK industries and has made things especially hard for a number of businesses. Those that have survived closure are still facing an upward financial struggle and the same can be said for those operating in the care industry too. One of the most concerning aspects of the cost-of-living crisis for care businesses is rising fuel costs and the massive increase in the cost of energy bills.

    For providers who care for vulnerable people like nursing homes, having the building set to an appropriate temperature is crucial for ensuring the health and comfort of residents. This means using fuel sources for heating is unavoidable and as a result, nursing homes are footing huge energy bills which had not previously been budgeted for.

    In the Markel report, Pauline Shepherd, CEO of Independent Health & Care Providers states some alarming figures which have been reported by one of their care home groups:

  • A care home group allocated £750,000 for their fuel bill this year, but it’s now costing £1.8 million.

    That’s a 140% increase and is something that has been seen time and time again in care home groups up and down the country. In addition to rising energy costs, increases in the cost of essentials such as food and medicines as well as higher wages for care workers has meant that care sector businesses finances are being stretched.
  • When finances are under so much pressure, care businesses end up looking at ways to save money by considering cut-backs to paid services such as insurance. This can inevitably lead to underinsurance or perhaps even a breach of the law in extreme circumstances and can sometimes see care businesses exposing themselves to unnecessary risks.

One great challenge faced by the care sector at the moment is reputational damage caused by a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and partially, the cost-of-living crisis. National feeling towards care services is often considered to be negative due to underfunding and poor availability and therefore improving the perception of social care is currently a high priority for care bosses.

In the Markel report, Adrian Hayter, National Clinical Director for NHS England believes that one step towards this is through providing better access to training, but that training can’t come without the right support and funding:

We need to have a workforce which is recognised for what they do. That workforce has a lot of responsibility in terms of direct care of individuals. They need to be skilled and trained. That kind of care requires investment in training and support.

For insurers, working with clients to improve their reputation is an important part of their customer relationship as many insurance packages for care homes are designed with reputation management in mind. During an unforeseen event, having the right insurance in place can minimise reputational damage that could arise as a result of a claim made against a care business. Although the insurance industry itself can’t fix the reputation of the care industry on the whole, it can help individual care businesses take steps towards securing their own reputation, and financial security in the future.

Running a business within the care sector is a challenge, perhaps more challenging than ever before. For care business owners, providing high quality care for a client at the right time is a must and any care business who is successfully navigating these testing times whilst providing that care should be acknowledged.

If you own or operate a business in the care sector and want to speak to an expert about your insurance needs, contact one of our insurance advisers who will be happy to discuss your needs further.

For more information on insurance for care homes and other care businesses; visit our care and medical insurance information page.

Nathan Bentley
Article by
Nathan is a content writer at Premierline with over 5 years’ experience, specialising in news and current affairs which impact small businesses across various industries. Nathan is passionate about discussing topics that affect the workplace, covering everything from human resources, to emerging and disruptive technologies. In the past, Nathan has written for a number of different businesses, working within a wide range of industries from financial technology to hospitality and even men’s fashion.
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