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The Home Care Association Conference is a special event for home care providers. It brings together Association members from across the UK to share the experiences and insights. This makes it a unique opportunity to meet with a wide range of providers, suppliers and key decision makers in home care. We have been eagerly awaiting this opportunity to connect directly with the home care sector and show everyone why we’re so enthusiastic about Nourish Community.

The theme of this conference was ‘The Future of Homecare’, something we at Nourish Care are very excited to be a part of. The day certainly lived up to its billing. Politics, commissioning, and workforce development were just some of the topics we covered, and thanks to the openness and understanding of the attendees there was plenty of positivity to take back home with us. 

The homecare community

The Home Care Association is the premier organisation for home care providers in the UK. Its members include providers of all sizes and locations, and their conferences bring these members together to great effect. Home care can at times feel like the ‘little brother’ of the ‘little brother’ in social care, overlooked and underappreciated. 

We know the reality is far from the truth, as demand for home care continues to grow year on year in the UK. People want to be able to live long, fulfilling lives, in their own homes and communities. We relished the chance to speak to so many amazing providers about exactly how they can help the people who utilise their services achieve this ambition. These discussions are crucial to both our understanding of the realities of providing home care, and the future developments we prioritise for our own system.

Headline conversations

The big attraction for events like ‘The Future of Homecare’ are the talks. The headline acts if you will, ready to light up the stage with their passion and perspective. We kicked things off with a bang this year as the HomeCare Association’s CEO Dr Jane Townson OBE was joined by Strategy Governance and Policy Consultant Dr Anna Dixon MBE. Dr Dixon recently chaired a Church of England Commission on ‘Reimagining Care’, drawing upon her wealth of experience which includes being the Chief Executive of Ageing Better and Director of Strategy and Chief Analyst at the Department of Health to name just a few of her previous roles. The talk highlighted the deficit of awareness around social care and the fact that we still lack enough ‘political salience’ to bring about much needed reforms. Work is being undertaken to try and address this issue, especially by fantastic organisations like Social Care Future but a lot of effort remains ahead of us. 

Practical advice

The other talks followed a similar trend of practical insight and experience being combined with actionable results. ‘Commissioning for Better Outcomes’ was a fascinating panel delving into the challenges of commissioning. Thea Stein, CEO of Nuffield Trust revealing a long held suspicion for many in the room that ‘The NHS does not understand Social Care…we are working through it but it is very slow’. Tim Ryley, Accountable Officer for NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board shared some tips on connecting with your local ICB as a care provider, finding the right contact and the benefits of going through the Place Committee where possible.

The talks on the future of caring and workforce were similarly dappled with actionable advice. A particular point of interest for us was when George MacGinnis, Healthy Ageing Challenge Director for UK Research and Innovation pointed out that; “Tech can be complicated and designed at care providers rather than with them.” An important lesson for all suppliers and one that speaks to the mission statement at the heart of Nourish Care. 

Joining the Discussion

The Home Care Association Conference is not just about coming and listening, but about taking part so you can be sure to take something back home with you. The morning and afternoon workshops covered a wide range of topics and offered something for everyone. Perhaps too much at times as it was difficult to settle on which workshop to attend!

Business growth, financial management, technology applications, recruitment, retention and PR were all up for discussion. These talks were led by people who had an in-depth understanding of the topic, but driven by the participants. The interactive sessions further reinforcing the engagement and community that makes being a part of the Home Care Association so worthwhile.

At the end of the day

Our team feels energised by our time at The Kia Oval and ready to embrace what the future holds for home care. We could spend thousands of words going through all of the great insights, conversations and people from the conference. (Not to mention the food, quite a spread) However some things you have to experience yourself to truly appreciate and ‘The Future of Homecare’ was certainly one of them. So make sure you don’t miss out on next year, because we can’t wait to go back!

We get it, you’re sick of hearing ‘we get it’. Social care is defined by the uniqueness of care providers and the communities they support. At Nourish Care we are defined by the lessons we’ve learned from working with care providers and creating digital solutions alongside them. From joining our platform, to helping extend it to the families of the people utilising your service, we are a community effort, and we have the functionality and flexibility to work with yours. 

Matching the Needs of your Service

Customisability is essential in digital care software. In order for your service to fit a system, said system needs to have the flexibility to be shaped to your service. Our functionality is rooted in best practice and supported by the comprehensive assessment and interaction libraries our clinical team have developed alongside our users. Each Nourish Community user has a dedicated Customer Success Manager to work with them and make sure you get everything you need from our system.

Getting Onboard

Your dedicated Customer Success Manager will be a key part of your digital transformation with us. They guide you through your onboarding, learning about your service throughout the process. We know that a good start is half the battle and this approach helps us focus our functionality and match it to the needs of your team and community, helping your team to build their digital confidence throughout the process. Alongside our thorough initial training and set up we also provide a wealth of supporting resources and an expert support team who are only a phone call away if you need extra help.

Circle of Care

Care impacts every aspect of a person’s life, vibrating out along the connections we spend our lives building. It is only natural that these connections will want to know more about the care their loved ones receive. Our ‘Circle of Care’ feature enables you to open up your service to trusted individuals securely. You retain control over the level of access they have, allowing you to share the outstanding care your team provides with the community of the person you are supporting. ‘Wrap around’ and ‘person centred care’ can mean different things to different people, and with Nourish Community you are well equipped for every iteration.

Digital Security for Home Care

Social care providers are entrusted with a significant amount of private information on behalf of the people they are supporting. This means you need a system you can trust to stay secure against cyber threats. We are dedicated to protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of your data with our cloud-based system and permanent record keeping. We have multiple security accreditations: ISO 27001:2022, Cyber Essentials Plus, DPST Toolkit, and membership of the NHS Assured Solution List.

The Right Decision

Integrity is crucial in digital security and social action. We stand proudly by the standard we set for honesty. If we feel we are not the right fit for your service we will tell you, rather than trying to lock you into a long contract with promises of tomorrow. With our best in class functionality, collaborative approach and award winning support, joining Nourish Community is like any other community, but no other system, find out more.

The Adult Social Care Transformation Fund is available to help care providers move away from paper based admin and digitise their social care records. It is a key part of the government’s push to have 80% of social care providers using digital social care records by March 2024. 

There is a concentrated effort to align health and social care in the UK, with digital systems playing a fundamental role, as outlined in the 2021 white paper Integration and Innovation.

Implementing a digital system, or going through ‘digital transformation’ as it is more commonly posed can be intimidating, but the benefits are worth the investment. Digital systems can streamline your service, reducing time spent on admin and providing you with previously unavailable insights of the care you provide. There is never enough time to do everything in social care, but digital systems can help you to focus on the things that really matter to your community.

Funding for Digitisation

Money makes the world go round. It’s a simple fact, one that is felt keenly in home care. For many providers digitisation was just another ‘nice to have’ aspect of care provision they could not justify in their budgets. Fortunately, the government has released funding to help support care providers set up their own digital social care records. 

This funding is available to any CQC registered care provider who has not used a digital social care record before. The funding is provided by your local Integrated Care System and the approved list of digital suppliers can be found on the Assured Solutions List. While funding varies between ICSs it generally covers 50% or more of your first year licence. 

“The Adult Social Care Transformation Fund has been a great enabler for providers as they embark on their digital journeys”, explained Nourish Care’s Head of Partnerships, Denise Tack. “The funding alleviates the initial up-front implementation costs of going digital and allows providers to rapidly gain access to essential care delivery tools such as GP Connect and eRedbag. Being able to carry a care plan in your pocket is highly transformational and most of our customers tell me they could never go back to paper!”

How We Can Help

At Nourish we are well versed in supporting care providers to succeed in gaining this funding. We have helped providers across all of the ICS’s and we would be happy to help you too. Reach out to us with your postcode and we will give you the relevant contact details for your local ICS. 

Once you have reached out to your local ICS they will send you a form to fill out for funding. We are on hand if you need advice while completing the application form.

It is important to note that in order to be eligible for funding care providers need to be CQC registered to support adults, be DSPT compliant, have NHS mail and be currently using paper.

Going Digital with  Nourish Community

We have written previously about the benefits of switching from paper to digital processes. Digitisation impacts social care both at its fundamental level of point of care, as well as its regulatory level of decision making. The future of a more integrated health and social care system lies in digital processes and information sharing brings us closer together without sacrificing our privacy. Digital social care records are at the heart of that, and with the right funding, the right system, and the right support, you can be too.

Domiciliary care is rooted in our communities. It takes place in our living rooms, our gardens, and on the streets where we grew up. It is by design and ambition people driven and person centred. Nourish Community is the exact same. Our system is built alongside care providers, with functionality that brings together the potential of digital with the vitality of human experience in home care, empowering providers to support their communities effectively and empathetically. Digital records, real time appointment notes, a comprehensive carer app, and many more features make up the core of Nourish Community, but it is our focus on lived experience, and the ability to measure and review such experiences, that makes our system the best at supporting person centred care in people’s homes. In this blog we’ll cover the host of benefits that come with embracing digital records and workforce management for your domiciliary service with Nourish Community.

The Person Centred Power of Going Digital 

The most obvious benefit of going digital is the efficiency it can bring to a home care service. It is widely known how much time providers can save by digitising their processes. Nourish Community gives providers the tools to improve efficiency and crucially, increase their oversight into the workings of your service. By reporting people’s care digitally it is easier to review and improve upon it. Carers can share notes from their calls, coordinators can view trends over time and the people utilising the service can become involved in decision making. Knowledge is power, and with Nourish Community your team will have all the knowledge they need, in one place and on the go, to provide truly outstanding care. 

Starting on the Right Foot with Implementation 

Digital functionality is powerful, but it can be misdirected. It is crucial that your system is shaped to your service, supporting the unique way you provide care in your community. We provide all Nourish Community users with a dedicated point of contact to make sure you are getting everything you need from our system. With robust training and onboarding, your point of contact will learn about your service as you learn about our system, building an understanding and teamwork that will guide you through your digital journey with Nourish Community. So you have a smooth implementation and sound system.

Effective Functionality

Through our hands-on approach, we come to understand the intricacies of your service as you learn how to best apply our system, with the end result being an effective, caring and responsive approach to person centred care for those you support. We have a suite of features that can be tailored to the needs of your service. Our assessments ensure your care plans are comprehensive, and with our trends and reporting features you can simply review and adjust your ongoing care as desired. 

Your Back Office Backbone

Nourish Community backs up its powerful point of care functionality with best in class admin features as well, giving you every tool you need to focus on providing outstanding care. Our scheduling and invoicing features simplify your administration and provide functionality for long term planning and consistently recurring schedules. Workforce management is supported with the ability to book training, time off and sickness, so you can create both ‘carer’ and ‘client’ profiles that are always developing (just like the people themselves).

Community Care in your Pocket

The Nourish Community Mobile App gives your carers all the tools they need to support your community. Timetables and travel destinations are included, along with appointment notes, electronic call monitoring, eMAR and more so your carers get to the right place, at the right time, with the right information! The app even works when there is no internet because we all know those pesky black spots can crop up!

Using Data to Support Outstanding Care
Data is a hot topic these days, abstract as the term can become. With Nourish Community we are focussed on making data tangible and applicable in real terms for home care providers. For example, our ‘recommend a carer’ feature draws upon information you have added into your system, and graded on a scale you can adjust, to find the best partnerships between carers and clients in your community. The data is all there, and we give you the tools to apply it effectively, using data points like travel time, carer skills or appointment history. Data is a powerful tool, one we have previously explored the benefits of. We are taking data and making it real for people who utilise care, people who provide care, and the communities who are shaped by it.

Care-centred community

Home care, domiciliary care, community care, whichever name it takes, the purpose is always the same, freedom. People who utilise care in their own homes want to be empowered, elevated by their service so they can continue to live their lives to the fullest. Nourish Community combines a digital system with a comprehensive data infrastructure and an internationally recognised user experience under that one defining goal. Empowerment, from our living rooms, gardens and communities, to wherever it needs to be.

Find out more about how we can empower your community here.

Social Care is going through one of its most challenging periods in history. Everyday frontline workers put themselves at risk to help support the most vulnerable amongst us. Care agencies are doing everything they can to support their staff. However with increasingly vulnerable service users, limited funding and PPE supply chain frustrations, it is a Herculean task. 

The COVID-19 crisis has made the public far more aware of social care’s structural issues. And yet, these are issues over which the United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA) has been hounding the government for years. As the sector’s cornerstone of information and representation, the UKHCA fights a daily battle to support social care’s critical providers. We spoke with Dr Jane Townson, CEO of UKHCA, to find out more about social care’s access to funding and PPE during the current pandemic.


The UKHCA has been a longstanding bulwark of the care agencies that constitute its membership. Right now the organisation’s primary focus is securing funding and PPE for social care during COVID-19. Dr Jane Townson explains: 

“(The Government’s) £1.6 billion is supposed to be to strengthen care for vulnerable people. Some of that has got to be used for homelessness, but the bulk of it should be for frontline social care services. How much of it has actually made its way to any social care providers yet? Virtually none. And that’s what we’re spending most of our time trying to sort out.”

Increasing Costs

Things have become particularly tough for an industry that was already running on empty. A National Living Wage increase of 6.25% kicked in on April 1st. Yet according to reports from UKHCA members, 60% of local authorities are yet to reflect that increase in the rates they pay to providers for delivering care. On top of that, the arrival of COVID-19 has further exacerbated social care’s lack of funding. 

“The amount local authorities pay for homecare is not enough in general,” Townson says. “Many companies are struggling with extremely low margins. One CEO was telling me this morning that he’s calculated that the cost of PPE alone is an extra £2.50 per hour of care delivered at the moment. In his case the sick pay is coming out at £1.16 per hour extra. And his absence rates aren’t as high as they are in other companies. That’s already £3.66 an hour more than normal, never mind the increase in the National Living Wage.

The UKHCA calculates the UK minimum price of homecare. We calculated from the first of April that the minimum price would be £20.69 an hour. We captured some data from our members on the week of the 23rd of March. The average fee rate was coming out at £17 pounds. So they are already £4 beneath where they need to be just to be compliant with National Living Wage. Never mind talking about extra cost on top.”

Working Towards a Solution

UKHCA has been working closely with the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) to try and address the most pressing issues.

“At the beginning of March, we emailed them and said: ‘Would you be willing to do some joint guidance for local authorities on how to support providers during COVID-19?’ They agreed and some guidance was issued on the 13th of March. That went to all local authorities…which mostly ignored it”, Dr Townson said. 

The guidance focussed on three key areas. First, a fee uplift to cover the increase in the national living wage. Secondly, to start paying providers on planned commission work, rather than in arrears as standard. Thirdly, to provide a temporary uplift to cover the additional costs that have arisen due to COVID-19. These would include: PPE, sick pay, as well as remote working and travel costs where relevant. 

Local Authorities

Trying to get Local Authorities to pay attention to their guidance has proven difficult for UKHCA. 

“Local Authorities have been given the money – it’s sitting in their bank accounts,” Townson says. “But they don’t want to send it out to providers for reasons best known to themselves. We’ve been putting a lot of pressure on LGA and ADASS to try and get them to force their members to do what’s right. But they say they’re a member organisation: all they can do is give them strong guidance. They (LGA and ADASS) said they want the opportunity to work with their members first. They’ve said, ‘give us a list of the ones that aren’t behaving’. The Minister for Care is also very actively engaged with this issue. 

“So the plan is: raising concerns with ADASS and LGA about the councils that are doing nothing. If that doesn’t work, go to the Minister for Care in the Department of Health to personally phone them up. Then if that doesn’t work we go to the media to name and shame them. We have already given notice on everybody that the timescale for that process isn’t going to be a long time. It’s already the 9th of April. If the National Living Wage went up on the first of April, what possible excuse is there for them not addressing that?”

An Urgent Need

That may seem like a drastic plan, but it could be exactly what is called for in our drastic circumstances. And Townson certainly sees the urgency: 

“The provider market could collapse quite quickly because it can’t sustain these kinds of additional costs and be able to meet payroll. Especially with the fee rises they’re paying. No money means insolvency, and then (issues like) PPE become irrelevant because everyone’s business has collapsed. This really, really needs to be sorted.”

PPE Supplies

PPE shortages have been reported from the majority of care agencies. A BBC poll from last week found 80% of the 500 care agencies they surveyed are running out of supplies. In response, the Government is implementing some solutions.

The initial step was a letter sent to providers last week from the Department of Health. It outlined four companies who had been instructed to exclusively supply social care. The demand, of course, quickly went off the scale. 

“The inevitable happened,” Townson explains, “their lines got jammed. They couldn’t reply to emails and phone calls. Anyway, they’ve hardly got enough supplies as it is. So they have apparently been rationing what they give to care providers to 300 masks each. But they are also insisting on minimum orders so people are having to spend money on other stuff that they don’t need just to get the 300 face masks, so that’s not very good.”

Parallel Supply Chain

The government is also preparing a parallel supply chain to the standard NHS supply chain to meet the urgent requirements of social care. The NHS Supply Chain set up this joint effort between them, the Ministry of Defence, Unipart Logistics and supported by Clipper Logistics. It will be for both acute and community hospital trusts and mental health and ambulance trusts. On top of that, it is also meant to service social care. 

“The supply chain isn’t up and running yet,” Townson says. “We learnt on Tuesday that they’re going to requisition all of the PPE that’s currently in the ‘business-as-usual’ supply chain with the business-as-usual suppliers. So all of the PPE suppliers that normally supply homecare companies are going to find they have no stock because it’s all been requisitioned.”

Far from being a logistical solution, Townson sees a logistical nightmare:

“I have no idea how that’s going to work: 18,000 care agencies all trying to register for an account, ordering stuff and then getting it delivered. I just don’t know how that can be done, we’ll see, but that’s what they’re doing.”

Emergency Drop Option

The third step the Government has taken in response to PPE shortages is an emergency drop to local resilience forums. This will be a route by which providers can access PPE. However, UKHCA has been told that this will be ‘very much emergency stock’. Which, of course, raises the question of what is an emergency, and how much stock does it warrant releasing?

“They said: ‘Oh yeah it’s going to be like, nine and a half million face masks, and 8 million aprons’,” Towson recalls. “Well, that is only going to last 2-3 days!”

There is no completely accurate data available on the number of people receiving private care. Based on available information, the UKHCA estimates there are 1,000,000 people receiving care at normal times. These people would normally receive between 1-4 visits a day. Providing care to people at this rate would quickly exhaust the 7.8 million pieces of PPE the government has already provided, leading either to equipment re-use (and the possibility of viral transfer), or to care workers delivering care whilst unprotected themselves. 

Understanding the Challenge

It’s clear, however, that despite logistical difficulties and financial irregularities, these are challenging times for all involved. While Dr Townson is critical of the support Local Authorities have provided up to this point, she appreciates their position.

“If you think about it Local Authorities have a lot to do generally. They are worried about things like food, homelessness, schools, isolation. There are a lot of things they’re responsible for.

“I don’t think it’s that they’re not working hard, I just don’t think that they’re focussed on social care. We have heard some good stories. In Carmarthenshire, they have offered an inflationary uplift for providers. They’re also paying on commissioned care from a particular date in March. Additionally for every hour of care delivered they’re paying a pound an hour extra to help cover the extra costs. Some of them are doing the right thing, but at the moment the vast majority of them are not.” 

Driving Action

UKHCA has grown accustomed to fighting the Government for change on behalf of social care providers. But what was once a more private crusade has become a very public battle. Dr Townson believes that this will raise public awareness of how vital social care is to our social fabric:

“I think people are waking up to realising what’s going on,” she says.

COVID-19 has brought to the fore issues that those within social care have been anticipating for years. Voices for change have long been loud, but little been heard. The new attention that social care is set to receive is welcome, although there are very real fears that the sector will continue to remain ‘the Cinderella service’

Though as Dr Townson points out:  

“At least Cinderella had an apron.”

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