Financial challenges within the care sector have come thick and fast in recent years. Even before the pandemic hit, many care home managers have faced issues around staffing retention and pay, increased competition and costs around ensuring hygiene and legal compliance. Rising costs of living have been having an effect on procurement and the wider supply chain, as many ingredients, medications, services etc. are increasing in price at an alarming rate.
Managing the money digitally
All is not lost, however. A key secret behind managing care home finances is to put iron-clad systems in place to track costs, maximise income and record exactly how much is being spent, what on and how frequently. A digital care management software system offers multi-functionality to keep track of financial data and other key information and produce reports and updates as needed.
This cloud-based approach is ideal for finance managers keen to stay on top of the figures and for care homes that need to remain complaint with requests and reports for HMRC, CQC and other industry bodies. As well as financial information, the system can track other crucial aspects that tie in directly with the money, such as staffing activity, medications, visitors, housekeeping and more.
This is the most obvious function of a care management system of all when it comes to handling care home finances digitally. Payments can be channelled through the system and invoices raised and sent direct to clients. Suppliers can be managed and paid by BACS through the software too. Real-time receipts can be logged and expenses, pocket money and sundries handled.
All accounting data can be entered, audited and stored via the cloud-based software. This brings with it many advantages. Data can be updated in real-time and stored securely until needed. It can be exported to several accounting packages, such as Sage, Quid Books or Xero. It can also be accessed by anyone who needs to see it remotely – wherever they are and at any time of day. Reports can be customised for sending directly to HMRC and other key industry bodies for compliance.
HR and payroll
This is another vital function of a digital care management system that involves keeping accurate records of key financial information. The correct payment of staff salaries, wages and expenses depend on accurate details being stored of shift times, overtime worked, holidays or sickness period taken, ‘time off in lieu’ arrangements and more.
In addition, a digital care management system can help with other key HR functions, such as tax deductions, training budgets, uniform allowances, travel expenses and more. Staff can feel confident that they will receive the right remuneration and any queries can be handled quickly, as their financial information can be called up quickly and easily, wherever they are and at any time of day.
An electronic medication record system may not immediately seem like it could assist with the financial side of running a busy care home. However, the more detailed and accurate the record-keeping is around residents’ medications, the smoother the stock management will be.
Re-ordering medications can be done earlier on and with less wastage if staff can refer back to previous dosages and treatment needs. What’s more, recording medication patterns digitally does away with the need for hard-copy records that require lots of paper, pens, files and storage to be procured at an extra cost. Training requirements on the system are minimal, as it is intuitive and simple to operate.
In a similar way to maintaining EMAR records digitally, meal planning via an electronic care management system can help cut costs too. It is easier to track and order more of the types of meals and foods that residents enjoy most of all and reduce stock of less popular food choices. This prevents wastage and ensures a prudent use of the meals budget – crucial at this time of national food bill increases and growing inflation figures. Linked to meal planning is entertainment and trip budgeting, which again both need careful financial management. Using a digital system will make planning, costing up, choosing and procuring everything that is needed for a successful day trip or activity far easier. Less admin and more fun!