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Health+Care 2018 indicates the way ahead for the care sector

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Health+Care 2018 addressed the biggest challenges facing those in the care sector, examining major issues around recruitment and leadership, the use of technology and social media, and the impact of Brexit and an ageing society. As always, striving for excellence was a key theme of the conference, held at the Excel centre in London on 27th and 28th June.

Rob Coulthard, managing director of Judgement Index, tackled the thorny issue of leadership in care. Judgement Index has developed a values-based behavioural analysis tool, and conducted a large scale study of ‘outstanding’ care managers. He delivered an analysis of a leader’s qualities, saying they must be flexible enough to “adopt the appropriate style” to suit different situations, and emphasised “the energy that you put out will be what will be reflected and delivered within the team”.

Delegates continue to be highly interested in potential solutions to recruitment woes. Sophie Coulthard, principal consultant at Judgment Index, offered “actionable advice” in five points, including using company values to market your business, making better use of social media, creating and promoting a wellbeing policy, and having an induction plan in place for new staff.

And Neil Eastwood from Sticky People Ltd provided some homecare recruitment secrets, describing recruitment and retention as “the number one growth constraint for your business”. He said the sector offers “job stability and longevity against, for example, high street retail. We should not be frightened of retail; retail should be frightened of us. We just have to get the message right.” This can be achieved are through using local connections, selling a job effectively, making the application process easier, and using Facebook more effectively. But he acknowledged that the lack of clarity surrounding Brexit had led to stasis within the sector.

Concerns about Brexit surfaced on more than one occasion. Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), when questioned at the end of her speech on whether the Government has a contingency plan for staffing after Brexit, replied: “I don’t think we have got a plan at the moment,” and admitted that she was “worried too”. The Health Education Workforce Strategy has been delayed to coincide with the publication of the Green Paper, now due in the autumn.

Colin Angel, policy and campaigns director at the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), advised: “The indications are that we need to concentrate on recruiting people who are in the UK with the right to work. Don’t rely on freedom of movement continuing – you are going to be competing even more than you currently are for good people.”

The challenges posed by an ageing society, and how businesses in the sector can prepare ahead, were also a focus. Jon Chapman, Director at Pinders, a business appraiser and valuer, said that, because care homes will be taking on more residents with much higher needs than in the past, “You have got to look very clearly at who your market is. Deliver an appropriate service for the appropriate market.” Bhavna Keane Rao, director and lead consultant at BKR Care Consultancy, described IT as “the way forward. The changes in the sector will be that somewhere along the line IT has to help us … it has to, because we don’t have enough money.”

IT can also attract younger people to the sector, said Neil Eastwood, helping with the greater numbers of staff that will be required to cope with an ageing society. “Technology can allow us to attract different demographics of staff. And the ability of technology to make things more efficient is really exciting and makes staff more likely to stay.”

IT solutions complement the core aspects of a successful care organisation — quality, efficiency, compliance, and control — according to a case study presented by Access UK. It looked at how audit tools, people planners, and human resources and financial packages stored at cloud level can reduce workload and improve efficiency. Stefano Rinaldi is a registered manager and service director at New Directions FSC which uses the software. He pointed out: “To achieve ‘outstanding’, you need a vast evidence base, but it is hard to do that and deliver care. You need technology to help you.” And, he added: “It has made us a more attractive organisation for commissioners.”

The exciting and stimulating environment at Health+Care 2018 provided an overview of the major hurdles and opportunities in the care sector, and indicates the way forward to building a better future for care.

For your chance to be part of Health+Care 2019, back at London ExCel on the 26th and 27th June, contact Mike Corbett on 0207 348 1855 or at m.corbett@closerstillmedia.com

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