2 Ways Residential Elderly Care Providers Can Drive Growth
2 Ways Residential Elderly Care Providers Can Drive Growth
The care sector is growing fast. People are its most valuable asset and
investment in care-home developments is being fuelled by an ageing
population and a growing demand for specialist skills.
Scalability and Replication Have Now
Become the Building Blocks That Will
Enable Residential Elderly Care
Providers to Sustain Growth, Deliver
Successful Change and Achieve
High-Quality Service Outcomes
Dean Jones, former Investment Growth Programme Manager for Care UK
offers insight into how REC providers can take advantage of market
opportunities by building a sustainable and scalable system. Jones’
experience includes programme managing a £250 million investment-growth
programme from 2012 to 2015, which involved building and commissioning 20
new state-of-the-art care homes and their services. He also oversaw a £60
million 3-year investment in a Suffolk programme, for the building of 10 new
care homes and 10-day clubs and bringing much needed additional nursing
and dementia-specialist care to the community.
REC Providers Can Develop Their
Own Blueprints to Replicate and
REC providers can learn much from Jones’ involvement with scaling
successful care homes. In his work at Care UK, Jones employed innovative
ideas for evolving the next generation of care homes and introducing a
competitive edge through unique selling points to harness market potential.
The trendsetting programmes have led to phenomenal success, with more
than 30 new homes built over a five-year period, a level of growth rarely seen
in this sector. Jones describes how REC providers can develop their own
blueprints to replicate and scale growth.
Building a foundation
The organization relied on a guiding principle as it developed a scalable
system. It consisted of a toolkit that would outline how to manage projects and
launch new homes, along with the standard of care the organization expected
once a home is operational. The first system in the toolkit, the Project
Management Blueprint (PMB) consisted of methodologies, processes and
systems that would guide the creation of an ambitious and exciting growth
pipeline for new homes.
The Blueprint ensured that the programme and project’s team resources
would deliver high-quality outcomes through the practice of sound project
management, both at a programme and individual project level. However, the
Blueprint was just one of three tools the organisation would use to govern the
commissioning and operation of new care homes. The other tools, a Home
Manager Launch Manual (LM) and a suite of Standard Operating Procedures
(SOP), complemented the programme on the whole.
Building the Capability to Service the
Demand is the Key to Driving Growth
Creating the demand for growth and the environment for change is not
enough to generate scalability. According to Jones, building the capability to
service the demand is the key to driving growth. Instead of control, managers
Introduce a framework and certainty about processes.
Implement repeatable best practices.
Build the ability to drive quality.
Equip people to do the best job possible.
Introduce a suite of project documents that directly suit the
organisation’s purposes while ensuring consistence use.
Increase efficiency and productivity.
As a result of the Blueprint, Care UK was able to construct the building blocks
for scalability and replication that would encourage change, growth and quality
outcomes. When the foundation of an organisation is built on highly
standardised and formal processes underpinned by highly developed
performance-monitoring systems and the ability to control quality, it has a
scalable business model. Another component involved in the process,
evolving the product offerings through a process of service innovation enabled
Care UK to apply standardised business-model concepts.
Building a methodology for scalability involves considering project and
business requirements first. Then, the organization can develop a system that
meets the business and management-style needs to deliver successful
outcomes. Jones employed a methodology that outlined the standard project-
management methods to be used, and practices and guidelines to follow
when managing new-home opening projects and business-transformation
projects. With a disciplined, well-managed and consistent methodology, Care
UK promoted the delivery of quality products and services, on time and within
budget for each location.
The essential benefit of adhering to such a defined project- and programme-
management methodology is the ability to demonstrate repeatable successes,
rather than learning the same difficult lessons again and again. The objective
of the methodology ensures that each new home opening was delivered to the
highest possible standards via:
High-quality product or service that adheres to the business case.
Excellent standards of care and service.
Financial performance that achieves or exceeds the business case.
Homes or change initiatives delivered on time.
Projects executed on budget.
Effective working relationships are also critical to the success of large-scale
projects. Management tactics based on a matrix structure ensure that
functional and operational resources are aligned across the business. This
approach results in significant advantages, as it enables effective and
responsive participation from different parts of the organisation that have
specialist expertise. In Jones' matrix, people from different parts of the
business took a lead role in managing a specific work stream and were known
as Work Stream Leaders. Jones also adopted the RACI technique for
identifying functional areas, key activities and decision points where
The management of any large, complex project is made easier when broken
down into more manageable chunks. This unique approach to the project’s
lifecycle enabled Jones' to establish clear controls, e.g. review points, or
gateways, at which to consider progress before moving on to the next phase.
The Care UK project lifecycle methodology consisted of five distinct stages,
with each stage considered as a sequence, providing the structure and
approach to progressively deliver the required outputs.
Risk and issue management
Focusing on critical risk issues helps programme managers mitigate threats.
Regularly planning and leading benefit reviews helps organizations drive
success and ensure that profits aren’t eaten up by largely avoidable risks. For
example, a slight reduction to a home’s expected average weekly fee (AWF) –
although based on a more up-to-date market analysis – could have a
detrimental effect on the bottom line. However, if this market analysis re-
evaluation were to take place at the pre-planning stages, then the organization
has an opportunity to review down spec. Key decisions like these must be
managed with due diligence and care, by referring to the original business
case and using a clearly defined change-control process, and then directing
such matters to the programme board for approval.
Programme managers embarking on a scalability journey should note that
before diving into the planning of a system of methodologies and processes,
it’s important to first understand what needs to be fixed. Jones began his
appointment at Care UK by working with a small team. They spent time
getting into the nitty gritty of launching care homes, reviewing checklists,
liaising with the Care Quality Commissions (CQC), and understanding the
business and identifying gaps. Only then did he present the findings and gain
support for the project’s Blueprint. Managers also need to understand the
organisational culture in which they operate, and then adapt their approach
accordingly. Finally, gaining senior management trust is another critical step,
as approval and support helps form links throughout the organization –
including the lower-management levels.
Successful organizations need managers with a breadth of knowledge – not
necessarily construction management expertise – to successfully drive the
outcomes of the project. They also require some understanding of IT systems,
staff, marketing strategy and more. Only then will the organisation reap the
strategic benefits of higher management-level expertise. With the right
approach to project management and creating repeatable systems, care home
organizations can seize market conditions and drive growth, while delivering
quality outcomes through scalable building blocks.
About Dean Jones
Dean is an Associate in AECOM’s Programme Leadership Practice. Dean
joined AECOM from Care UK, the UK's largest independent provider of health
and social care, where he was a Programme Manager and delivered a £250m
investment growth programme over 2012/15 which increased Care Uk’s
number of homes circa 33%. Dean was also Programme Manager for a £60m
Suffolk programme to build ten new care homes and ten day clubs, bringing
much needed additional nursing and specialist dementia care to the Suffolk
community. The new homes and day clubs will eventually replace Suffolk
County Council’s existing homes and well being centres which date mainly
from the 1960s and 1970s. Dean also has experience working in Local
Councils as their Project Manager for regeneration and community projects.