According to the Office for National Statistics, by the year 2040 almost one in four of the people living in the UK will be over sixty-five years of age.
In the current climate of austerity, local authorities are reducing their contributions to the care for the elderly and on top of this Care Homes are having to deal with a continuing rise in staffing costs. The reasons for this are many and varied. There is a national shortage of qualified personnel, and the uncertainty of a post-Brexit immigration policy can not help with this. To get staff Care Homes have had to turn to expensive agencies, who themselves are having to compete in the ever shrinking 'qualified' market. Add to this the introduction of the National Living Wage and how that will impact on the 'non-qualified' employment pool, in itself can only increase the pressure on care home finances.
So if Care Home businesses, especially Independent Care Homes are going to survive, then they are going to have to work 'smarter' and ease stretched budgets. One way to do that is to make sure that any outstanding payments are collected promptly. However, care fees, like funeral expenses and private school fees are a type of debt that is very sensitive and therefore requires careful handling in their collection.
It is important that Care Homes choose a debt collection agency that has experience in collecting all manners of sensitive debt. Managing this type of debt can be made a lot easier with good terms and conditions. A good agency will help to write clauses that allow for 'third party' collection, and late payment terms can offset those collection costs. These provisions allow the care home to work with a third party specialist to assist with collecting 'sensitive debt' in a professional and understanding manner.
A Department of Health spokesperson reported in a late 2015 Guardian article as saying "We know the system is under pressure and we've given extra money to support it but working in better smarter ways is key to dealing with our growing ageing population."
By Kevin Bishop - Senior Partner at Town and Country Legal Services LLP