By Roz Jones
We hope and pray that nothing will happen to our home, but it’s a good idea to be prepared “just in case”. You likely have insurance on your home and many material things in your house can be easily replaced should disaster strike. Other things like photos and important documents can be hard or impossible to replace. Missing documents can make it harder to rebuild after disaster strikes. That’s why it is a good idea to keep them safe and secure.
Invest In A Fire Safe
A good fire safe will survive a lot of damage. Invest in a quality one for any documents you want to keep at home. You can get a fairly small box that can be stashed away in a closet or cabinet. Make sure both you and your spouse know where the safe is kept and has a key to open it.
View original post 328 more words
It turns out that people don’t share fake news because they actually believe it to be true. Rather, they believe in its value. Sharing demonstrates their allegiance to a particular social group.
Vic Citarella, Director CPEA Ltd, looks at the economics of social care and suggests marketing is more than immediate sales but is integral to every provider’s longer-term business strategy.
In economics, it is usual to identify five types of market:
- Perfect Competition
- Monopolistic Competition
Applying the associated features of each to the social care market, it appears that not to be perfect competition because there are not an infinite number of buyers and sellers. There is one buyer who can alter the prevailing price in the market and that is the local authority. Nether buyers nor sellers have infinite alternatives and choice is a chimera.
Patently nor is there a monopoly with just a single supplier of social care and no reasonable substitute. If there were the supplier would be able to charge whatever they wanted and their income would only be limited by whether the customer was prepared or able to pay.
Neither is there an oligopoly in social care where there are just a few dominant providers. If there were they would be able to collude to set prices and to the customer it would seem just like a monopoly.
If the social care market were monopolistic competition there would be numerous competitors but the differences between each would allow them to charge different prices. Whilst each provider may be different there are usually substitutes available.
Lastly the monopsony market in social care would just have a single buyer. If this were the case they could dictate the price.
So, what types of market are there is social care? On a national level, there are two markets. Firstly, the public market – about 40% – which is a monopsony. Here the purchasing local authority can keep the price to the lowest level feasible. The only controls are if there is intervention from a regulator or there are unlawful actions. Both forms of intervention are currently being tested.
Secondly the private market which displays aspects of all the other types excepting monopsony. Several providers are seeking to differentiate their social care offer. For example, this is the case at the luxury end of the market and in terms of specialism or niche. There are signs of an oligopoly-like cluster emerging as smaller businesses are squeezed and consolidation takes places through mergers and acquisitions. If this trend continues there will need to be a strong regulator to prevent price fixing between providers and the eventual emergence of a monopoly. There are further signs in some parts of the private market that there is genuine competition (if not perfect) which offers the customer some choices at affordable prices.
Questions and Challenges
Selling to the monopsony provider – the local authority – is becoming untenable. Home care providers are handing back contracts and residential care homes are closing or ceasing to operate for the public-sector customer. The return on investment is insufficient to sustain a business even for a not-for-profit provider. There is little scope to attract and retain a skilled workforce. Much vaunted innovation will not take root in a climate of survival of the fittest. Social care is not a business field where rebuilding or paradigm shift can come out of chaos because of the lives at stake. Such change is much needed but careful incubation is a safer approach.
Residential home providers are either shifting to the private market and/or charging in a way that means private customers are subsiding the shortfall on income from the public customers. The former leads inextricably to a two-tier service with characteristics akin to the airline industry where actual customer service is increasingly for the first class only. Whereas the latter seems duplicitous under consumer legislation.
Inevitably providers are cutting costs – some say ‘corners’ – and seeking ways to raise income from extras – some say from ‘basics’. There are too many services not reaching the minimum standards required by the regulator. The regulator is not well enough resourced to enforce standards. And policing a service that cannot comply brings the system into disrepute with a fall-back position that colludes to allow the standards to lapse.
Knowledge and Expertise
In short – two markets, two tiers of service, falling standards for the have-nots and a get what you pay for service for the haves. The scenarios are last business standing takes the chaotic market into a monopolistic new order or the state intervenes to prop up a failing market and a centralised monopsony is (re)institutionalised with a choice and/or means tested opt out. Not a pretty picture for providers or genuine investors. Not encouraging for the social care entrepreneur unless jeopardising quality and safety are an acceptable risk for permitting the entry of a cohort of more ‘disruptive’ investors.
Markets and marketing are vital areas of knowledge and expertise for social care providers. In social care, both involve individuals with needs, transactions between organisations and purchasers as well as a strategic understanding of the local and national (and indeed international) business environment.
- How well do you know your market – where are the gaps?
- Who are the key players in your market – the service users, families, the workforce, the commissioners, brokers, agents or regulators – how well do you know them and do you need support in mapping and understanding your stakeholders?
- What are the emerging opportunities – do you need assistance in developing them?
- Who are the customers and why should they buy from you? What’s your plan?
Vic Citarella, Director CPEA Ltd, www.cpea.co.uk 07947 680 588
Lynden Consulting has a proven track record in implementing successful strategies to achieve excellence and tangible results for providers in health and adult social care. Get in touch to find out how we can help.
- there is a problem
- the relationship that matters is the one between the commissioner and the provider
- such relationships have character – effective, strong and positive – which can be improved
- there is an answer to the problem.
In the first of a series of blogs, Vic Citarella considers the crucial role of the workforce in Fulfilling Lives for people with multiple and complex needs. Vic is keen to start a dialogue with projects on this topic. You can get in touch with him using the details below.
“The CFE and University of Sheffield 2nd annual report into the national evaluation of Fulfilling Lives: Supporting people with multiple needs programme has chapters on ‘interventions and approaches’ and on ‘working the frontline’. The report says it raises as many questions as it answers but without doubt it pinpoints the workforce and what they do as the mission critical factor in the projects. More is promised by way of research and future evaluation. That means, among other things, dialogue with the practitioners, the managers, the stakeholders and the customers of the services.
What better way to exchange views than by identifying some themes in a Blog?
A question of purpose
The evaluation reports that users of the services value the ‘sense of purpose’ that the project workers share with them. Clearly we need to know how that ‘purpose’ is articulated and shared. What is it about the mission statements, vision, values and principles that motivates and convinces the workforce that they are doing the right thing? There is a saying that: if you lose your ‘why’ then you lose your ‘way’. Well, we have to know why.
There are a number of big pointers in the annual report and perhaps foremost among them for the workforce is a purpose which includes:
- Meaningful service user involvement
- The concepts of open-endedness and persistence
- Psychologically Informed Environments (PIEs)
- Systems change
These are themes that need further probing for workforce implications.
A question of detail
Few people remember the second half of the quote: The Devil is in the details. It goes on to say: so is salvation. The problem with specifics is sorting out what is important and what gets in the way. There are some clues in the annual report that will warrant further exploration.
The projects all work through some variation of keyworkers. We know from the report that this means in practice both personal, relationship-based support and service coordination or navigation. Knowing the detail of how these twin roles are demarcated and overlap will help prepare operational job descriptions and person specifications, make for effective values and skills based recruitment and ensure appropriate support and training for the workforce.
Knowing what types of people that you want to perform what roles and tasks is about sorting through the specific details to make clear statements of what is important.
So for example it appears from the annual report that service user involvement and peer support are both important. Quite right, but what are the important details?
A question of pragmatism
Everyone wants to know how to do things – a handy guide, top tips or a readiness checklist. There is no shortage of these on the web to encourage best practices for the workforce and their managers. They may not be exactly useable off-the-shelf but a lot of general policies and procedures can be customised to the multiple and complex needs project scenario. What may be challenging is undertaking the customisations.
The annual report spells out that pragmatism, practicality and perseverance are the order of the day in projects. It flags up a number of workforce issues that will need further evaluation. Among them are:
- People with lived experience on the frontline as volunteers and/or employees
- Caseload management
- Navigation and systems brokerage as emerging job roles
A question of curiosity
The annual report makes it very evident that members of the workforce are at the heart of evaluating progress with the projects. It is they who complete the two measuring tools – Homelessness Outcome Star and the NDT Assessment – with the service beneficiaries. One of the features that workers enjoy about the projects is the move away from target driven approaches. We need to know how, without the target driver, projects capture the imagination and creativity of practitioners in working alongside beneficiaries in getting as full an evaluation picture as possible.
So for example projects could share views and opinions on:
- The skills and training required to make good use of the tools
- The amount of time it takes to collect the data and information
- What helps and what hinders in using the tools
- How the data and information is useful to them in their work
- What makes data collection less challenging
The continuing evaluation must be inquisitive about the interventions and approaches. The more we know about what works and why the better. In this way the best workforce can be recruited, trained, supported and retained. What follows is an effective service. As Einstein said: \”The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
Company Director CPEA Ltd. 07947 680 588| email@example.com