As the cost of living soars, we start to realise the deeper impact it has on all areas of the healthcare sector. From nursing homes and hospitals to local clinics and carers, all areas are seeing the direct impact of the financial difficulties institutions and also individuals are facing. It is not only impacting the level of care that institutions are able to provide but also the general, day-to-day care with a shortage of some foods and medicine.
Families that support elderly relatives in assisted living and care homes are finding their costs rising exponentially and to the point where they are removing their loved ones from such facilities to care for them at home. Something that not only are they not qualified for but in the majority of cases does not possess the basic equipment required for some people. Corners are being cut due to no fault of their own and families are having to make the heartbreaking decision of bringing their elderly relatives home.
Healthcare leaders are concerned about the impact on local communities, patients and staff, and worry that soaring costs could cause a public health emergency. This would further strain already stretched services. Health and care organisations are doing all they can to shield staff and patients from the worst effects of the cost-of-living crisis. The impact of the cost of living crisis in healthcare is seen in many other areas of society.
Everyday necessities like fuel are causing a shortage of staff for healthcare positions due to the unprecedented rise of fuel prices. The cost of filling a car to travel to work has become unobtainable for some NHS workers and ultimately leaves facilities short on the staff they require, having a knock-on effect on the services they provide.
It is not only fuel costs that have skyrocketed but food increased by 15% from last year – the highest rate of increase for over two decades (Office for National Statistics). The average food shop has now risen to £645 making buying healthy, nutritious food that little bit more difficult. Care homes and other private sector facilities are having to really dig deep into budgets to find funds to ensure that patients are receiving enough nutritious food to keep them healthy. A good diet works alongside medication and it has been proven to go hand in hand with maintaining overall good health. Something that is crucial in a healthcare setting.
Just like households across the country, care homes are being hit by soaring energy bills and food prices It’s led some to slim down meal sizes, reduce menu options and even cut down on the use of washing machines to slash costs. An employment crisis in the sector also means providers are having to increase staff wages rapidly. They are being quoted sky-high insurance bills after the pandemic saw nervous insurers hike premiums.
Many care homes are older buildings and are not very energy efficient. Strict regulations mean homes must always be above a certain temperature. But experts say energy bills are a drop in the ocean compared to other costs — most notably, insurance premiums.
In the first four months of the pandemic, there were more than 20,000 Covid-linked deaths in care homes in England and Wales. Since then insurers have been anxious about a wave of legal claims against homes over the fatalities resulting in increased premiums as a result.
Concerns around social care have been mounting for years but the pandemic pushed them to boiling point. As the end of 2022 ebbs closer, it is hoped that the cost of living crisis will start to settle as 2023 begins.
If you are looking to re-train or begin a new career in the healthcare sector and have concerns regarding the cost of living, please contact one of our team.