Circle Opinion

How cost of living is impacting the Elderly Care & Senior Living market

Tom Clarke

How does a challenging economy affect consumer choices and priorities that shape the UK market for elderly care?

It’s no surprise that the cost of living squeeze is having an impact on elderly care operators. Private residential and domestic care cost money: consumers are looking for ways to economise. Older people want and need comfort and care as much as ever, but they and their families are tightening their belts. Inevitably, they’re considering the cost of different care settings and options.

What does this mean for residential and domiciliary care providers? It’s early days, but as for every other consumer sector, you need to be prepared for the market to change. A proactive approach to understanding current and future customers and modelling potential demand in your locations can uncover opportunities to maintain occupancy and optimise your services to match evolving priorities and needs.

If you don’t have a crystal ball to hand, that may sound like a tall order. But knowing and anticipating market demand in your locations doesn’t depend on magic or guesswork. Consumer and location data together provide reliable evidence that can help you identify ways to stay relevant, accessible and financially stable.

Not all groups are impacted to the same extent by the rising costs of living. The majority of Acorn Groups still have a sizeable disposable income despite the recent 5% average fall.
Source: CACI Paycheck Disposable Income 2022 v2

Despite the bleak headlines, the economic impact varies considerably for different household types and in different areas. Many older consumers still have savings, disposable income or assets that allow them to choose the care they want. If you can understand the profile of your current and future customers in detail, it’s easier to identify and reach out to local prospects.

Location intelligence data is a well-established source of insight for care home operators and domestic care providers that are considering expansion or new sites. Mapping the age and affluence of the local population in a potential catchment helps to indicate where there’s likely demand for elderly care services.

But alongside age and income, there’s a lot of more subtle data that can help you market your existing services, confirm or reshape your propositions, benchmark your pricing and adjust the range and type of services you offer. This type of insight is extremely useful in a fast-changing market.

CACI data insight can answer crucial questions about your customers and market:

• What are the characteristics of your local and target customers?
Acorn profiling groups UK consumers by affluence, life stage and priorities
What are your current and potential customers thinking, feeling and intending to do differently?
   Quarterly Consumer insight surveys of the UK population
• How has customer spending on different outgoings changed?
Transactional spending data shows the split of spend with different brands and operators
• Whose disposable income is affected?
Postcode model of income in different locations, showing how it’s being spent.
• What’s around the corner?
Dynamic modelling forecasts what could happen to consumer spending if inflation, fuel and other costs rise in a range of different ways

CACI’s current disposable income model reflects the changes we’ve observed in the last few months. Although all households are affected by rising costs, the majority of our Acorn consumer profile groups still have a significant disposable income. It’s groups like Student Life and City Sophisticates that have seen the largest decline, driven by property costs.

There has been major growth in spend on private healthcare, with a wide range of demographics prioritising health over other non-essential spending.
Source: CACI Transactional Spend, June 2022

For elderly care operators, it’s encouraging to note that Comfortable Seniors, Countryside Communities and Successful Suburbs, who are likely to form far more of the target market, have some of the highest levels of disposable income, reflecting smaller or non-existent mortgages, good pensions and comfortable savings accrued over previous years.

Spending on private healthcare has increased in the past year. The Covid-19 pandemic and concerns about NHS waiting lists are driving this change in priorities for households across most Acorn groups. Despite rising essential costs, many consumers now regard healthcare expenditure as a necessity, not a luxury. This could have a positive impact on perceptions of value in elderly care.

These are just the headlines from our latest national data. Every elderly care provider has a different operating model and works in unique locations. CACI’s health and social care team can select data and build customised reports that directly reflect the opportunities and changes happening in your catchment areas today and tomorrow. For mid-sized operators, it’s vital decision-making information to inform strategy and tactical decisions that will help your business compete and thrive in a challenging economy.

We can help you:
• Continuously analyse, monitor and adapt – stay ahead of policy and new competitors when finding new customers and recruits
• Tailor marketing engagement and recruitment key messages to reflect the requirements of local potential pools of customers and staff
• Understand your staff and customer base and how its segments are impacted by different cost of living challenges, to identify risk and opportunity
• Tailor your offer to changing consumer and staff requirements

CACI’s specialist elderly care and senior living team work with clients in the UK and internationally to help them improve operational and financial performance with access to vital insights into their customers, employees and locations.

To find out more, contact us.

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Tom Clarke