Knowledge & Insight

The changing face of nursing home provision

Wed 26 February 2014

The changing face of nursing home provision

The nursing home sector has expanded significantly over the past decade, and many independent providers have sought to capitalise on the UK’s ageing demographic by opening new facilities to meet this burgeoning demand. However, as with any growth industry, progress is rarely steady and uninterrupted, as new factors influencing demand come into play.

The emergence of homecare provision

Residential nursing has been part of the social care sector for more than 40 years, and whilst it will always have a major role to play in providing care for our ageing population, the nature of the care sector is changing. With the appearance of new homecare and community care providers offering care to the elderly within the comfort of their own homes, many established residential nursing homes, with higher fixed costs, are struggling to compete. As a consequence, a growing number of residential nursing homes are failing to maintain occupancy levels.

How competition is affecting the nursing home sector

Competition within the care sector is nothing new, but the emergence of homecare and community care provision presents a new and unique threat to established providers – because these new entrants can deliver a quality service at a substantially reduced cost. And as the elderly are able to receive this care within their own homes, they don’t suffer the indignity and upheaval associated with moving to a nursing home. It’s no surprise therefore, that home care is an increasingly popular choice with service users. The resulting decline in occupancy levels at residential homes puts downward pressure on revenues, making cost reduction inevitable. Residential homes respond by reducing their cost base, laying off staff or having minimal supervisory cover, potentially causing standards of care to slip.

The future for nursing home provision across the UK

Despite the growing pressure from home care providers, the fact remains that nursing homes have always provided more than just essential care. Residents benefit from social and community care activities, enjoy peer group interaction, and benefit from the skills and experience of resident allied healthcare professionals. So it’s clear that residential nursing homes will always have a major role to play. Indeed, they are likely to remain unchallenged in the provision of specialist nursing services for people suffering from dementia and other degenerative conditions.

The demand for specialist quality providers

This ability to provide high-quality specialist care looks set to shape the future of the residential care home sector. There is likely to be a significant shift away from generalist nursing home providers to more specialist facilities. Nursing homes that are able to care for residents with mental illness will be well positioned to meet continued demand, as this level of service is not easily catered for by the home care sector. Residential homes that offer exceptional levels of service are also unlikely to be affected, as despite the challenging economic conditions, many high-end residential homes still have long waiting lists and are able to charge premium fees for their services. It is the more generalist providers who face the biggest challenge – those who lack specific specialisms or fail to offer a high quality service. Over time, these facilities are likely to experience reduced occupancy, and ultimately, many will fall by the wayside. Of course, this is an inevitable process in any dynamic industry, where changing conditions impose a degree of natural selection, ensuring high standards are maintained and securing the long-term future of the sector.

The scarcity of highly skilled nursing home managers

Another challenge facing the sector lies in the recruitment and retention of talented nursing home managers - high-calibre professionals who can keep a tight focus on maintaining standards of care whilst balancing this with today’s commercial realities.

Finding nursing home managers who possess both clinical leadership skills and commercial acumen is no easy task, yet for nursing homes to survive, this is precisely the calibre of leader required.

As many more nursing home organisations look set to diversify or develop their nursing home portfolios into more specialised areas of nursing care, the demand for the most able nursing home managers will become self-evident, and those providers who can attract and retain the most capable nursing home managers will prosper.

Nursing home management recruitment

Recruiting the best and most able nursing home managers in the future will not be an easy task - a simple advertisement will not be enough to attract the attentions of nursing home managers across a specific region. As ever more ‘generalist’ nursing homes fall by the wayside, and homecare nursing providers offer alternative care solutions, so the development of highly specialised nursing homes will create a demand for multi-skilled managers who have both commercial ability and the clinical insight to oversee complex operations.

The only way to attract the best people is to use the services of a professional social care head hunter like Stone Executive. Our experienced nursing home recruitment consultants have the ability to identify and approach the most highly qualified nursing home managers, those you wouldn’t normally get the chance to engage with. Our nursing home headhunters are well placed to help providers identify the most suitable nursing home manager to help drive your business forward whilst safeguarding clinical care standards.


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