‘”normality” in the care sector is highly likely to be a minimum of 18 months away’
The Hafod Care Organisation owns and runs a 29 bed nursing home, a 16 bed retirement home and a small home care agency (approximately 600 hrs a week). They accept both NHS and Privately funded residents and have 72 employees of which approximately half are full time. The business has a turnover of around £2.5 million.
The Coronavirus outbreak has meant adjusting the way they provide care. One important adjustment has been creating a complete isolation unit in the Nursing Home for residents returning from hospital where they may have caught the virus. This has been a large expense as it needs staffing more intensively and completely separately to the main nursing home and has a separate entrance, toilets and showers etc. Neither residents nor staff in the isolation unit enter the main nursing home in any way.
Another change is the need for personal protective equipment (“PPE”) as the employees have never had need for this equipment before. Eleri Perry, who owns and runs Hafod, has been spending the large majority of her time sourcing PPE for her staff. It is available but time consuming and expensive to track down. When we spoke to Eleri she had spent the previous 48hrs trying to source specialist FFP3 respirator masks. In the end the NHS procurement team had provided her with a box of 20 but that was only a single day’s supply. More would be available from the NHS team but only in day by day amounts. To buy on the open market they would previously have cost £5 for a box of 10 masks but are now costing £200. Normal face masks that would previously have cost around 35p each now cost £1 each.
No employees have currently contracted the virus but a number have been self-isolating. When Eleri had arranged testing for those in self-isolation for various reasons, all the staff chose to return to work rather than be tested. Staffing costs have escalated due to self-isolation as temporary Agency staff have had a be employed in the business for the first time.
As relatives are no longer allowed in the homes (apart from at the very end of a resident’s life when they need to be provided with full PPE) staff are needing to take time every morning to ring relatives and if the technology is available in the family, to help resident’s to facetime relatives in the afternoons.
4 part time administrative employees have been placed on furlough and another 2 employees will need to go on furlough if anyone in the retirement home picks up Covid 19 as they are in the “vulnerable” category.
Eleri believes “normality” in the care sector is likely to be a minimum of 18 months away and won’t be until a vaccine is widely accessible to everyone. The costs associated with the changes are worrying coupled with the risk of the virus potentially wrecking havoc in the homes. She would like to apply for a loan through the CBILS but has been told by her Accountant that so far none of his other clients have been successful in applying for such a loan despite being healthy businesses with strong equity levels.