Risks of Care Homes depending on agency staff   

Extract from Magazine Care Home Provider 

Increased agency costs contributed to a 3.1% drop in Four Seasons’ EBITDA (Company valuation) in 2017. Agency as a percentage of payroll for the business rose to 10.1%, compared with 8.0% in the year earlier.

Extract from carehome.co.uk. The nursing shortage crisis in care homes has led to the use of agency staff in care homes rising by over 55 per cent in just two years, according to a recent report. 

In its report “The UK Nursing Workforce: Crisis or Opportunity”, specialist property advisers Christie + Co, claim that short-sighted workforce planning has resulted in the evolution of an ‘agency culture’ in health and social care over the past few years.

Christie + Co’s research revealed that an ‘agency culture’ has put huge financial pressures on care homes with the cost of agency staff typically exceeding the cost of regular staff by over 100 per cent on a per hour basis.  

Earlier this year, the CQC blamed poor care in care homes on a growing use of agency staff. They observed that continually changing rotas of agency staff often meant that warning signs of deteriorating health were missed. 

Debbie Westhead, CQC’s deputy chief inspector of adult social care for the north said, “[One of the] few threads that run through the ‘inadequate’ inspection reports … is shortages of staff – and in particular – an insufficient number of registered nurses in nursing homes”. Agency culture: The report gives credence to her comments noting that the ‘agency culture’ has increased the cost of care whilst putting immense pressure of those providing it. ‘As a result, the risk that these pressures result in a deterioration in the quality of care is also real. 

Thinking about health and social care as one system is absolutely essential for this’. Michael Hodges, director of Healthcare Consultancy at Christie + Co wants to see both policy makers and care home providers take action to address the problem, saying ‘those who fail to act now will feel the impact for years to come’. “The findings of our report highlight the need for innovation from operators, regulators and policy makers. “The announcement by the Government of an intention to place controls on payments to staffing agencies highlights the inefficiencies in workforce planning as detailed within our report.”