Understanding the financial impact of COVID-19 on the UK care home sector - implications for businesses and the workforce

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Warwick Business School

Abstract

This project addresses the impact of COVID-19's on the care home sector including the consequence for the workforce and users while assessing its financial viability, as well as requirements for recovery and resilience.
The UK depends on the financial sustainability of the mainly privately-owned care home sector, which cares for over 400,000 older people. Prior to the pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority 2017 report highlighted the financial fragility of the sector. It is clear that COVID-19 has exacerbated financial pressures on care homes, potentially leading to highly disruptive closures.
Although there is a growing understanding of the additional costs to the care home sector attributable to COVID-19, there is a lack of knowledge about the implications for the financial sustainability of the sector as a whole, as well as for different types of organisation (e.g. large chains, charities, family-run care homes). Yet, it is essential for policy makers to comprehend these financial impacts if they are to design effective interventions to ensure the stability of care home provision, maintain safe standards of care and deliver good quality services. This new research will complement the analysis of care costs being undertaken by other relevant research conducted by the ESRC Sustainable Care programme.
According to the 2019 report produced by the Skills for Care charity, the 600,000-strong care home workforce is characterised by low pay, high staff turnover and vacancy rates, and reliance on migrant labour. Given the difficulties in recruiting and retaining care home workers prior to the pandemic, policy makers also need to understand and address the financial impact of COVID-19 on staff experiences and efforts to retain staff.

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