Business News Opinion

Changing demographics – and the impact on care provision

Paul Patarou, Head of Strategic Projects – Health and Social Care, Access Group

There’s an interesting shift in attitudes towards care provision. It was something that I didn’t even realise until I was recently privy to a conversation between three generations. That conversation, which I’ll share with you here, clearly highlighted the different expectations.

On the one hand, there was the grandmother who had no time for care in the home. She was adamant she didn’t want a stranger visiting to wash, dress and feed her. It wasn’t the ‘done thing’ for her generation as far as she was concerned.

The mother, on the other hand, is a cancer patient who is having treatment and receiving care at home. From her perspective, she’s been told she needs the care so reluctantly accepts it because she wants to get well.

The daughter, however, takes a completely different view. When care is needed, she’ll quite gladly accept all the support that’s offered to her. She also expects the care provider to be answerable and on time.

Active involvement

With this shift in attitude comes the client’s expectation that they’ll be actively involved in their care provision. The move from funded to private care particularly reflects this consumer-like view.

You’ve only got to look at what happened when students started to pay university fees. It increased their expectations of the education they received – it was no longer seen as free. This resulted in universities being forced to change the way that they engaged with students to satisfy their needs in education delivery.

It changed everything and it’s likely to be the same for the care sector too. What’s more, the change in attitude makes it more likely that service users will be prepared to complain about poor care provision. Providers will, therefore, have to be more efficient and client-centred than ever before.

It’s kind of like the Amazon effect, where technology and automation have made the whole process of buying incredibly efficient and fast. Customers hold all retailers to this level of service. In the years to come, care providers will be expected to have incredible levels of efficiency and be on demand too.

Smoothing the process

At the most basic level, clients will want to see who’ll be delivering their care on any given day. And if they’re late, they’ll want to log into an online portal to see where that person is and how long they’re likely to be (pretty much like vehicle tracking on parcel delivery).

There’s no doubt that technology can smooth the challenge of this demographic shift. This is particularly true for those that have grown up with tech. It’s already an integral part of their life and second nature to them.

As a result, the sector needs to have the systems and processes in place to allow for client interaction, manage care provision and to track issues and complaints efficiently so problems can be rectified as quickly as possible.

In the same way as Amazon leverages technology to make the buying process more efficient, care needs to do likewise to manage and deliver on future client expectations. We’re already seeing a move in that direction with outcome-based commissioning. For the most part, people just want to be kept in the loop and continue to have some control over our lives.

The drive to find new ways to manage these changing expectations isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. It can open up new ways of working that make the business more efficient, improve the delivery of care and lead to happier clients. If care is delivered profitably and the client gains the outcome they want, then it’s a win-win on all sides.








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