When I was invited to meet colleagues at The New Jewish Home in New York it only took me a few moments to say yes. Here’s an opportunity to spend quality time with like-minded people who don’t just talk about revolutionising elder care – they’re actually doing it! And of course, I’ve never been to New York so that’s a new adventure too!
Bill always describes us as Road Warriors. We’ve spent so much of our careers on planes, trains and automobiles – a little bit of travelling won’t put us off if the opportunity is right. So, using my limited resources, I started early this morning from Manchester and flew direct to Newark, caught the Express bus to Grand Central Station, jumped in one of those famous yellow cabs and landed at my funky NYC hotel. And it’s pretty hot over here and very welcoming for a major city! To acclimatise properly, I then joined lots of American families at brunch at a local restaurant. Everyone enjoying conviviality around the table.
Before I left I was reading about yet another major care home group acquiring a smaller care provider. The press release outlined the group’s aspirations for greater efficiency and increased turnover and growth. There was nothing about customer experience, staff development or wellbeing.
Why is there a need to grow ever larger? As one of my SME colleagues says: “Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity”. Is it vanity on the part of business leaders who wish to grow their empires? Do they really believe that being bigger drives efficiency? And how is it that care providers can find £100s of millions to buy their smaller counterparts, yet are haemorrhaging money running their existing operations? And, that’s an issue they believe needs to be addressed by more public funds, as well as helping them to meet the new levels of Living Wage. Other industry sectors adapt, redesign and develop their operations to provide attractive propositions for their consumers and workforce. Apparently that’s a concept beyond the scope of institutionalised care.
That’s been my experience. There is money for the “Health & Aged Care” sector from corporate investors and within organisations, large and small. We’ve been working with a number of small independent care homes in recent month and apparently there’s nothing new we can share with owners about how to run a care home – they’ve been doing it for 30-years! They just want our help to keep the beds full.
I can only reach the conclusion that the industry has run out of ideas and imagination. And will go the same way of other sectors in the past that believed there was nothing new to create.
My husband was a talented academic who was continually learning and exploring new ideas for the sheer fun of it. He is my inspiration and the reason why I continue to explore new concepts, share and test our ideas and build propositions that people are actually attracted to. After all, no-one wants to live in a care home.
So I am really excited to be in New York. I’ll be taking a couple of hours out to feed my own passion for art history (the very best European painting is here), and then meeting colleagues from The New Jewish Home plus fellow travellers from Auckland, NZ. We’re getting together to see real innovation happening in NYC today and to share our own plans for positive older age living.
I want to spend my time with people who are prepared to take risks, disrupt and discover new frontiers. I’m looking forward to continuing to do that back in the UK with our great extended team at Evermore Wellbeing.
Follow Sara on Twitter @SaraMcKeeFRSA