By Emma Toas, Operations Director at Wolf Laundry (www.wolflaundry.co.uk)
With the cost-of-living causing concern now more than ever, increasing warnings that crippling energy bills could force care homes to shut, the scrapping of the government’s Infection Control and Testing Funding, and a budget that failed to address the pressures on social care – the care sector has never been more affected in such a worrying way.
Despite Boris Johnson’s promises in his first speech as PM to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all”, and similar promises by Rishi Sunak in January 2023, things have gone from bad to worse and the care sector is in a state of crisis.
In short, the government just isn’t doing enough. This is all without mentioning the messages leaked from our former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock’s WhatsApp, coming into the conversation.
The Health and Social Care Levy was scrapped in 2022 and care homes had until the end of March this year to use up their infection control fund grant and take advantage of a 130% super-deduction tax break.
With this deadline now having passed, the challenges faced by care homes are becoming even more difficult.
Wolf Laundry appreciate that our customers are making difficult choices about energy bills and trying to balance that with long term sustainability targets. They run on such fine margins and the price of a load of laundry can be the difference between them staying open or suffering the threat of closure. It’s that stark.
A survey of care homes carried out by the Independent Care Group found 96% of homes are experiencing soaring costs, from energy to staffing, with 93% having had to make cutbacks as a result, including reducing heating, quality and quantity of food and cleaning products.
Recognising the pressures facing the care home market, we are working with clients to help them better understand their usage and educate them about the cost savings that can be achieved by using different machines, perhaps swapping to gas over electricity.
We’ve also recently rolled out a training programme for the care home sector focusing on achieving optimal hygiene as efficiently as possible. We’re working on a one-to-one basis with several care homes to help them find an efficient, long-term solution to infection control. However, that’s not enough.
The care sector is consistently being failed at the highest level. So, it’s our view that where government support is lacking, the private sector must step up. This can be achieved through providing additional training and educating employees about the latest hygiene, infection control, cross contamination, and compliance procedures. We must learn from the past.
I strongly believe that it’s not enough for only Wolf Laundry to stand for this and work in silo – we need the industry to work together – and by working together, the sector can fill the gap in support being provided elsewhere for care homes post pandemic and during the ongoing cost of living.