As part of our interview series, we are speaking to some of the most important influencer’s in the home care industry, who give their reflections on the past twelve months and thoughts on what 2018 and beyond has for the industry.
In this interview we speak to Duncan Berry, who is the Chief Operating Officer for Bluebird Care.
1 – What is the biggest change you have seen in home care in 2017
There had been two significant changes that Duncan identified in 2017.
The first was the fact that the government was beginning to recognise that more was needed to help address the social care crisis. Whilst a lot more still needs to be done, Duncan was pleased to see the government at least talking about the issue and taking some (small) steps to address what is likely to become a significant issue in the medium to long term with the changing demographic in the UK. This is at least a first step to ultimately trying to get more cash and funding in to the sector. Without this Duncan does worry about whether good care can be delivered at sustainable levels in the future.
The second big shift that Duncan has seen is the use of technology by providers. Duncan believes that technology can help deliver better outcomes for those needing home care. Examples of this included the mobile applications that Bluebird Care gives their staff access to which allow them to access details of their clients instantly as well as give access to medical information and support. Duncan also expects more people in the future looking to use technology to book care for themselves.
2 – How do you see the Home Care market expanding in 2018 and beyond?
Duncan was very optimistic about how the home care market will expand in 2018. He recognised that there is increasingly a cultural shift from people looking to receive care in their own home rather then move in to a care home. This resonates with the experience of the UK Care Guide website where in 2017 we saw a significant increase in people looking for information around home care as opposed to care homes. With the cost of care homes increasing year on year, we are seeing that people are increasingly looking at things like equity release to fund their care at home.
Duncan felt that there some great opportunities for the franchise model and was very optimistic with regards to what this means for Bluebird Care. Fundamentally, Duncan believes that franchises want to offer great quality care and many are investing in helping to deliver this.
In addition, with the increase in demand for home care, Duncan expected the quality of care to improve. The industry is often maligned in the press and Duncan feels that positive news stories will only help improve the perception of the industry. As a leader in the home care market, Duncan believes that Bluebird Care should be at the forefront of helping to improve this perception and sharing some of the great experiences their clients have.
With high quality providers increasingly turning away from local authority contracts, Duncan believes that good home care providers can focus their effort and resource on the private home care market. This in turn will lead to an increase in the quality of care as care providers can focus their staff on better value contracts.
3 – What are the biggest challenges the market will see in 2018
There were 2 primary challenges that Duncan identified.
Firstly, Duncan feels that recruitment will continue to be a challenge for 2018. There is a challenge around attracting good quality staff to the industry and then keeping them in the industry. Bluebird Care want to proactively manage this and they are seeing some of their franchises employ recruitment managers with the sole purpose of recruitment and retention. This then allows the franchise owners to focus on other, more strategic, aspects of running their franchise business.
Secondly, Duncan feels that there could be a challenge in meeting the demand for high quality care. In fact, there are some Bluebird Care franchises that currently have a waiting list and this is only expected to continue through 2018. In addition, he felt that it was important that people recognised the true cost of providing good quality care and that the cheapest option is not often the best option.
4- How have you seen clients accessing the home care market?
Historically, and currently, the primary source of new clients has been personal referrals. This would often be through friends and family who have either received care or seen care being delivered to others. However, going forward, it will be important that there is a digital enabled strategy. This is because increasingly the buyers of home care services are in their 40’s and 50’s and are increasingly tech savvy. This in turn means that they will often turn to the internet to look for home care providers using sites such as the UK Care Guide. Duncan believes that failing to embrace digital could potentially hinder the long term growth plans of any home care organisation.
A little bit about Duncan
Duncan joined Bluebird Care in 2015, bringing with him a wealth of experience in the franchise market. With 12 years’ experience in franchising, Duncan has been instrumental in the growth of some major UK and European franchises organisations and will now oversee Bluebird Care with a particular focus on growth, distribution and brand awareness.