As an owner of a Care Home I have to make decisions, do I give wage increases to my staff or do I change the carpet, which has a pattern everyone hates and has now become public enemy number one. What I need to help me decide is some local knowledge about what the Local Authority is doing, what the other Care Homes are charging and what the local Infection Prevention team are thinking. I get this by going along to the West Midlands Care Association meetings, ringing up their office or looking at their web site. What helps most is not just the advice and understanding but talking to other Providers who are in the same boat. WMCA is also part of the Care Association Alliance which helps us get information from across the country and helps the Association run smoothly.
Local Care Associations pride themselves on knowing what is happening in their area using information from the many Care Providers who are members. They also share information about changes which are about to happen and how Providers can prepare for them. One example for instance is the training that we provided in response to the GDPR legislation that came out last year. The available places were booked very quickly, and Providers were glad of the support.
Most Associations have a bulk buying scheme to help Providers with day to day items and also big investments like carpets.
Being a Home Care Provider, I don’t know from one day to the next what is going to happen to my business. I am constantly trying to get sufficient quality staff, trying to get enough business to keep going and finally to get paid by the Council. One of my worries is the contracts which are given out by the Local Council. It is such a big influence on my ability to continue to run my business and support my 150 staff – not to mention providing quality care. The local Association knows what is happening or can put me in touch with someone who does and gives me ideas to think about. One of the recent conversations was about providing some private care to offset the impact of the Council.
There is a lot of help for Care Providers from the Local Authorities and Health about how to provide good Care. What they need from a local Care Association is support in running their business, especially in such a volatile industry. Most Providers start out wanting to provide quality care to their clients/residents, but end up trying to please the bank, CQC, staff, relatives, local Authorities etc. Most Associations provide business support in many ways, moving now into more electronic and 21st Century forms. Associations work with Agencies, such as Skills for Care and Job Centre Plus who support recruitment and retention
Nurses, Nurses, Nurses….. how do you find them, how do you afford them, how do you get them to do all the additional things that this industry asks? The bank wants to see my business forecasts and CQC want to see my future-plans, well if they can tell me what will happen in the next few months, then good for them! We had a local Association meeting for Nursing Homes, and it helped to discuss the business, training and advanced Carers. At least it was not just me!
Health have recently started to work closer with Associations to ensure they have the most up to date information and Associations can help them, help Care Providers. Every area is different and has their own challenges. It works well to have local knowledge and to be able to speak to other Associations for ideas.
One of these ideas is Care Homes Trusted Assessors, who are employed by the Association to help Care Homes get their residents back quicker and so save beds in hospital, but also improve the experience for the residents and reduce the need for Care Home Nurses to be running to and from hospitals when their time would be better utilised delivering care.
What on earth is this? I have received a Criminal Offence notice from CQC, telling me that I am suspected of committing a criminal offence and need to pay £1250 fine or be prosecuted! I don’t think I have committed a crime, and they didn’t mention it at my inspection or in the report. Thank goodness I know who to speak to! When I told the Association, they informed me that many of their members had also received them and members felt it was not enough money to be worth instructing a Solicitor. I don’t think that’s right, I am not a criminal and money is not the only concern. The Association gave me the details of a local Solicitor who gives a free half an hour and special rates to members, but more importantly they are Solicitors who understand about CQC and their regulations.
Local Associations like to make sure that their members speak to Solicitors at the right moment and make it as easy as possible for them to get the right advice. Working with specialist Solicitors is important to Associations as Care Providers are covered by a lot of complex and competing regulations
All Associations are different and are constantly changing the services that they provide for their members. This is because they are run by their members to help them navigate complex situations. The Associations are always on their toes making sure they know about the changes which CQC and Local Authorities are making and have plans on how to share just the bits that members need and no more. Now that we have the Care Association Alliance, we have 34 other Associations that we can ask for advice on how they are doing things and where to get information, this ensures Care Providers are better supported.
The comments are from conversations with our members in the West Midlands Area and reflect the diversity and complexity of the current care market. In a time when the legislative and financial landscape is in a state of constant flux, your local Care Association can give you the inside knowledge to enable you to stay ahead of the game
West Midlands Care Association has nearly 500 members who provide many different types of care.
West Midlands Care Association is a founder member of the Care Association Alliance and works closely with all the other local Care Associations. To find out more about your local care association, visit the Care Association Alliance Website
Debbie Le Quesne Chief Executive
West Midlands Care Association