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Interview with Ken Deary – Managing Director of Right at Home

As part of our interview series, we are speaking to some of the most important influencers in the homecare 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 Ken Deary, who is the founder and Managing Director of multi award winning Right at Home in the UK.

1 – What is the biggest change you have seen in home care in 2017?

The biggest change that we have seen is the Regulator (the Care Quality Commission) establishing their authority; really helping to raise standards in the Care industry. The two areas where this has particularly been seen is in safety and in the leadership of care organisations. Whilst many, including Right at Home, have reacted positively to the changes, there are some organisations that have found it difficult.

By increasing the awareness of standards in the industry, the CQC are helping to improve quality of care across the board, which can only benefit an industry that at times can suffer from negative press. Improving the overall experience for Clients and their families will help to raise confidence and trust in homecare providers, which is vitally important.

To make homecare a successful industry with a positive reputation, it is important that organisations are able to run profitably. Over the last twelve months we have seen homecare providers being a little more bullish and handing back lowmargin work to Councils and focusing on quality care that is provided at a fairer price. Whilst the CQC is doing its upmost to raise standards, there is a concern that Council spending cuts could lead to organisations inevitably cutting corners and affecting the quality of care to the most important person, the Client.

The UK Homecare Association (UKHCA) are doing some fantastic work in supporting homecare organisations. They have calculated a minimum price for care at £17.86ph from April 2018 and Ken’s experience is that it would be difficult to maintain standards if you are charging lower than this.

The work the UKHCA are doing in lobbying government on behalf of care home organisations is also to be commended, as they truly have the interest of the service users at heart.

2 – What are the biggest challenges the market will see in 2018

The biggest challenge will be being able to service the ever-expanding homecare market. The ageing population (currently 18% of the population is over 65 and 2.4% over 85), coupled with more people looking at alternatives to residential care means that providing highquality Care could be a challenge.

Looking forward we know that by 2036, over half of local authorities expect more than 25% of their population to be over 65. This, over the long term, is going to cause a huge increase in demand and potentially a challenge to the homecare industry, if it does not upscale quickly enough.

To make this really work, there needs to be more of a concerted effort from central government to manage social care to make sure there is an appropriate infrastructure in place to support and fund the care of an ageing population.

3 – How do you see the home care market expanding in 2018?

I believe that there will be record demand for homecare services in 2018, both publically funded and  private. We will likely see a significant increase in people looking for private homecare provision due to reductions in availability of council funding, and therefore a continued growing interest in existing franchise models such as Right at Home and potentially new entrants into the market.

Within the homecare industry, a franchise model can help to ensure that good quality care is delivered to a consistent standard. With the considerable regulatory requirements across the Care industry, franchising is well positioned to service this market, as some smaller organisations may struggle to stay on top of all requirements as well as maintaining standards of care.

4 – Is recruitment and retention of staff an issue for the industry?

There are in the region of 80,000 staff from the EU currently working in the care sector, representing about 6% of the industry. There is also already about a 7% (and growing) vacancy rate. Brexit is therefore going to cause the industry significant problems if EU workers are not able to fill vacancies.

We recognise that the care industry is not alone in this problem with other industries also likely to be impacted, however increased requirements in other sectors may decrease the pool of potential recruits into the Care industry even further. I am fully supportive of the work that the UKHCA are doing in making a strong case to government on why we need to be able to retain access to EU workers in some form.

5 – How do you see new clients accessing the home care market in the future

For most people selecting Care for a family member is a very personal and important decision. Historically, the key source for private referrals has been through word of mouth; asking friends and family for recommendations. Any good quality business will grow with strong referrals and these will always have an important part to play in the development of a business.

However, we are seeing an increase in people going online, and using sites like the UK Care Guide, to seek out care options. The buyers of these services (often the children of the Client) are increasingly used to researching and making purchases online, and are often time poor; therefore, they are naturally going to places like Google to find the answers to their questions. Going forward, there will be much more emphasis on homecare businesses having a significant online presence and using technology not only when signing up new Clients but also for maintaining relationships and improving services to Clients.

A bit about Ken

Ken started his work career in insurance and is qualified as an accountant. Realising that the accounting world was not for him, he moved into franchising and ended up running one of McDonald’s most successful franchises, picking up many awards along the way including the coveted British Franchise Association (BFA), Franchisee of the Year 2002.

He used this expertise to then purchase the master franchise licence for Right at Home UK. He started franchising the business in September 2011 and earlier this year opened the 50th franchise. Going forward, the plan is to continue to develop the business however, Ken is keen to ensure that the growth is sustainable.

The most important thing to Ken is for him to work with franchisees that have the right values and quality for the Right at Home UK network. Recently, Right at Home won the Best Management Franchise in the UK at the Best Franchise Awards.