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Supporting Elderly Care During Covid-19

Thursday 9 April 2020 Demographic Data

Paul Langston's picture
By Paul Langston

With elderly care at the front-line of the Covid-19 crisis, most effort in the sector is rightly focussed on keeping residents and key-workers safe and healthy. 

But how can you help your customers now, and also be in the best shape to meet their needs when we emerge from the current challenges?


1. Supporting the Vulnerable Elderly in the Community

With the current restrictions on movement many vulnerable elderly people are trapped in their homes and reliant on support in the community. 

Being able to pinpoint those in need is essential – and this is where our set of postcode level vulnerability indicators can really help you.

Figure 1, shows just how much vulnerability varies in the area surrounding my new home office, formerly known as my lounge.

Figure 1 – Age based Vulnerability by Postcode in the Watford Area


The red dots in Figure 1 show postcodes with high propensities of potentially vulnerable elderly populations.  Distinct red clusters can be seen in the suburbs of Watford, around the edge of the 3-mile radius.  Meanwhile the blue-dot dominated centre of Watford has far fewer elderly people needing support.

However, this single dimension of vulnerability only tells part of the story.  Whilst Covid-19 does not discriminate on wealth, there are huge differences in the needs of the different populations shown on this local map.  Those living in South Oxhey, at the south of the map, are on average far more financially vulnerable than those just a short distance east, in Bushey, and west in Moor Park.

To ensure the right support reaches those with the greatest need we can overlay the second dimension of our vulnerability indicator, financial vulnerability, to understand the combination of age and finance-based risks across the country.

Additionally, being digitally vulnerable is now a massive issue.  The Covid-19 lockdown means we are all suddenly reliant on ‘virtual’ communities to stay connected, to access vital services and to avoid feeling isolated.    Whilst many older people have embraced digital technology, others find computers confusing and some simply lack the broadband or hardware to access the benefits that the internet can bring. 

By overlaying this third dimension, digital vulnerability, you can further identify the potentially hidden elderly that need support, now.

If you need to support the lonely we can also supply data on single person households, and this can be further refined to reveal just areas with high shares of older people living alone.

And finally, to help you address the health risks of the local communities that you serve, our Wellbeing Acorn classification enables you to pinpoint postcodes both by their likely health issues and their potential social isolation.  Figure 2 outlines the 25 segments of the classification and the clear difference in the needs of the highlighted Poorly Pensioners and Perky Pensioners, both of which are probably living in your local communities.

Figure 2 – Wellbeing Acorn Types and Their Health Challenges


All of these datasets have powerful commercial applications to support businesses serving the elderly care market, but are particularly valuable to those on the front-line at this time. 

To help those providing essential services to people in urgent need we are making these postcode level datasets available free of charge to charities, local authorities and public bodies at this time.

Please let us know if you would benefit from this offer, or if you know of others that would benefit.


2. Recruiting Vital Staff

The Covid outbreak is adding increasing complexity to the already huge challenge of recruiting staff to care for the elderly.

Care England, Care Scotland and others are rightly lobbying for a change in legislation to allow furloughed workers from other sectors to provide vital cover in care homes facing additional shortages due to staff being ill and in self-isolation.

Assuming the legal hurdles can be addressed we can help you, by supplying the addresses of businesses near to your care homes that are likely to have closed during this period.  These may be able to provide access to the workforce that you need to get through the key challenges now, and maybe into the future.     

Our analysis, in Figure 3, shows that many London boroughs would benefit the most from recruiting pub and bar staff to support care workers.  This reflects the large number of drinking establishments relative to care homes.  Outside of London it is Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford and (perhaps surprisingly) Crawley that make up the top 4 locations for retraining bar staff to support the care staff need.

Figure 3 – The ratio of Pubs and Bars to Care Beds in the UK


3. Maximising Time Spent Supporting Those in Need at Home

Resources are equally stretched for Domiciliary Care providers – making it even harder to support those at home with the quality of care that they need.

The datasets outlined in the first section of this blog could be a valuable at this time to help home care providers to prioritise those with the greatest need and to plan priority visits and resources.

Similarly, the approach outlined in section two could be equally applied to address the extreme staffing issues that the sector is currently facing, by identifying local businesses that may be able to provide cover at this time.

In the longer-term, domiciliary care providers need to ensure that their precious staff are maximising the amount of time that they are spending with the people that need them most, and not on the road.  This can be achieved by combining your data on your service users with our data on local population needs, local services and travel times between any locations in the country.

This data driven approach helps you optimise your services by understanding the local needs of each household, the supply of other care services in the local area and the travel times between visits.


4. Making Your Homes the First Choice

Planning for the future is challenging for everyone at the moment.  However, our experience from the previous financial crisis, is that the most successful businesses are those that are ready to grow as soon as possible when the situation improves.

Whilst you focus on the critical health and care needs of your residents and workers please try and find some time to consider the following questions:

  • How will you make sure that your home is the first choice in your area?
  • How will you attract new residents to your homes?
  • How will you communicate with potential residents and their families to demonstrate that you offer the care that they need?

We would welcome the chance to discuss how our services can help you to market your services in the emerging market.



5. Back on the Road to Growth

The care market still has a severe shortage of quality accommodation in many parts of the UK, and this needs to be addressed when we emerge from the current crisis.

Figure 4 illustrates the mismatch between bed supply and demand in the Midlands. 

Figure 4 – Care Bed Over and Under-Supply in the Midlands


This mismatch can be replicated across the country.

If so, our CareMapper software will help you identify the optimum locations for expansion. Built in partnership with care industry experts LaingBuisson and BarbourABI, the leaders in monitoring planning applications, CareMapper will help you to pinpoint profitable care home locations. Used in combination with our location strategy consultancy services you may be the first on the road to growth when this challenging situation ends.

If you would like to know more about how we can help you address these current and future challenges please contact us here.

With elderly care at the front-line of the Covid-19 crisis, most effort in the sector is rightly focussed on keeping residents and key-workers safe and healthy. But how can you help your customers now, and also be in the best shape to meet their needs when we emerge from the current challenges?

Supporting Elderly Care During Covid-19