Care Homes feel the heat as budgets are stretched
The recent minimum/living wage increase not only means more money is being spent on staff overheads, but can also leave care homes with little choice but to cut headcount as a result. Downsizing the number of employees might initially balance the books, but the effect on a home’s efficiency, service provision - and ultimately its ability to turn a profit - can be extremely damaging.
Add to that the perpetual increase in other running costs, such as gas, electricity, real estate and building rental, and the squeeze on care home finances becomes even tighter.
These pressures alone are enough to give any owner or manager sleepless nights, but are even further compounded by commercial pressures. The demand for high quality food, from both residents and their families, is greater than ever. Indeed, 1 in 3 current care home users say they would pay more for better food and ingredients. More homes are recognising the value of providing good value, and so those that cannot keep up with the more varied and nutritious menus on offer around the UK will fall behind in months and years to come.
Increasing intake poses yet another problem for both independent homes and larger national groups. The number of over-85s is growing, which of course means more meals must be cooked - a tricky proposition for kitchens that are ageing as their residents do.
Finally, and more directly linked to care provision itself, the risk of illness and poor elderly care outcomes is far greater for those who are unable to eat well. Those who take responsibility for nursing and old age care ought to beware that malnutrition is linked to long-term conditions such as COPD, dementia and even cancer.
So, what to do? Amongst other considerations in the battle to save money while enhancing experience in care homes, the kitchen should take high priority. Making simple changes, such as installing a combi oven for example, is one way of maximising budget while meeting demand for high quality food in bigger volumes. You can find out more about money-saving commercial catering equipment on offer here, or check in to read our next blog and find out exactly why food should never be neglected in a care home.