Quality of Care Ltd

Want 2024 to be Better? Here’s How.

The end of the year is the perfect time to pause, take stock of accomplishments, reflect on the challenges you have faced and to think about what you want next year to bring your care business.

In this post we’ll explore how to identify what you want to change and how to make it happen.

Identify the Changes You Want to Make

What is the one big thing you want to be different in 2024? A more financially robust care business? Expansion? Exit?

Whatever your top goal, now is the time to step back and think how you are going to make that happen.

Be Proactive

The first step to making the biggest positive changes to your care business is to be proactively decide that you are going to make this happen.

Make a strong commitment in your head that you are going to do this and not let everyday issues and demands drag you away. If it helps put notes up to remind you or create a mantra that you are going to make 2024 a much better year than 2023 or the last previous few years.

Follow this up by setting aside time in your diary or calendar to do this. Make this time sacrosanct.

Because we are so busy, it simply won’t happen if you don’t carry out these initial steps.

And please don’t hope things will be better because they won’t. Be proactive – strategic – and not reactive and don’t procrastinate.

Take a moment now to cement in your head that you are going to purposefully make positive changes to your care business.

Having done that, get your calendar or diary out and pencil in when you are going to do this. Even though you don’t know how long this process will take, pencilling in a few hours between now and the end of the year is a good start.

Identify Your Top Successes and Challenges

Before diving into goal setting for the upcoming year, it’s essential to reflect on the challenges and triumphs of the current year.

What worked well? What didn’t?

Answering these questions is a good start. Often what didn’t work well is easier to start with because these are the areas that will have stressed and frustrated you throughout the year.

If all areas worked well then you are looking at how to improve on this year, whether reducing costs and inefficiencies to increase profit or expanding your business.

However, it’s a rare business that has no areas that could be improved on enough to make a significant difference and this is especially so in the care sector where you have so many challenges thrown at you.

With that in mind, grab an A3 sheet of paper and write down the key areas that didn’t work for you. If you are going to do this with your management team then get them to use Post-it notes and write one big issue per note and group the common challenges.

Choose the biggest, most common, say top three areas that didn’t work, based on the impact on your business, and delve down to establish why. If doing this on your own with an A3 sheet of paper, circle each main issue and then branch off. If as a group repeat the Post-it exercise for each common issue.

Doing this will not only help you gain valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your business but it will also help you see how to improve those areas.

By delving down you also get to the root of the problem that may actually be different what might seem obvious.

For example, it might seem obvious to performance manage out a poor manager who is having a detrimental effect on staff and the organisation.

But delve deeper and you might discover that this manager’s behaviour isn’t because they have a crappy attitude but is down to being overworked and stressed because they want to do a good job but aren’t receiving the support they need to be able to, without putting in extra hours and always playing catch-up.

That support could be needing more staff or needing better trained staff or better systems and processes to help them achieve all the things they need to do.

If because of low staff numbers, is there a recruitment drive to address or is the cost of taking on more staff too high? If poor training, why aren’t staff trained as they need to be – is it too costly? If lacking effective systems and processes, is that because of the cost of implementing these systems (like Digital Social Care Records)?

Do you see a common theme in those examples?

As you delve deeper you will find common causes to these issues.

And without doubt the highest issue amongst care providers is the financial struggle they face because of low fees.

Most providers don’t receive the fees they need in order to return the vital profit needed to invest back into the organisation and afford the training needed or pay the rates to keep staff or address the myriad issues that making enough revenue can address.

If you have followed me for a while you know that my overriding message is that your top, number one priority must be the financial health of your care business.

Nothing you will do to try and improve things will matter or be sustainable if your organisation is struggling financially. Everything you want to do will cost money.

On top of that, the challenges the government and your local councils throw at you increases the financial pressure on you. For example, the latest move regarding the new immigration policy and the massive impact on you regarding recruitment may well be the straw that breaks the backs of many providers.

Keep delving down to reach the real causes of your top challenges and if your business isn’t financially robust then this will be one of those causes if not the main cause and should therefore be your biggest challenge to address in 2024.

Assuming that addressing what hasn’t worked rather than improving on what has worked will have a greater positive impact on your care business, next you need to plan how you’re going to fix these problems.

Address Your Top Challenges

Having identified Identify specific areas that require improvement and delved down to find their root causes, establish realistic, measurable goals that will fix the problems.

From a top level, consider the following steps:

      •   Prioritize goals based on their impact on your business.

      •   Break down larger goals into manageable, actionable steps.

      •   Assign responsibilities to team members and ensure alignment with their skills and expertise.

      •   Set clear deadlines for achieving each goal.

      •   Invest in the necessary resources, training, or technology to support your objectives.

Creating and executing a coherent strategy is a huge subject – here are some articles that will help you if you’re unsure how to proceed.

      •   The Strategy Building Block

      •   Where Do You Want Your Care Home to Be? Your Strategic Destination.

      •   How to Get to Where You want to be – Strategic Priorities

If your care business is not financially healthy, then rather than costly inefficiencies in your organisation, I’ll bet it’s because you aren’t receiving the care fees you need.

This therefore is the first thing you need to address.

Instead of taking you through how to do that, please download my report,

5 Steps to Make Your Care Business Financially Secure.

In addition to seeing exactly how to work out your costs and set accurate fees, in this report I also introduce you to a couple of tools that will make controlling your finances and setting fees a whole lot easier.

And if you are receiving fees that are too low then start to review these fees as soon as you can because if you do need fees increasing you know that your local authority or ICB won’t simply accept what you are saying. If you do this then base your staff costs on next April’s the new hourly rate and the increases you’ll have to make for those earning above the NLW.

If you are a rare provider who doesn’t have huge issues in their care business and you wish to improve and build on what you have then think outside the box and embrace innovation. The most significant changes often stem from a willingness to do this.

Challenge yourself and your team to dream big and envision the business you aspire to lead in 2024. This might involve adopting emerging technologies, exploring untapped markets, or redefining your brand identity.

Take these transformative steps:

      •   Embrace technology trends that can enhance efficiency and customer experience.

      •   Explore new revenue streams or partnerships that align with your core competencies.

      •   Foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability within your organization.

      •   Communicate your vision clearly to inspire and align your team toward common objectives.

      •   Encourage creativity and risk-taking to drive innovation.

Conclusion

In the fast-paced world of business, taking the time to intentionally plan for the future is a strategic advantage.

Use the end of this year to reflect and identify what you need to do to take your care business forward and especially to eliminate the big challenges you have faced this year and will face next if not addressed.

By actively shaping the future you desire, you position your company for success and create a roadmap for growth, resilience, and lasting positive change.

Don’t just hope for a better year—make it happen.