Home / Resources & Guidance / Care Trends Report 2024: Insights Building The Future of Social Care

Last year, we launched our first Care Trends Report, uncovering the key challenges in social care. We understand how crucial it is to stay updated with the developments of an ever-changing and challenging landscape, so that’s why we’re back with even more insights in our latest Care Trends Report 2024.

Hundreds of care leaders took part in our survey, including provider owners, managing directors and CFOs working in domiciliary care, residential care, supported living, extra care and retirement living. And from their feedback, we’ve been able to capture meaningful perspectives around the challenges and opportunities within social care today.

This article offers a brief overview of some of the valuable insights we found, as told by those at the heart of the sector.


1. Payroll and Invoicing Pressures

45% struggle to manage complex shift patterns and/or payroll categories

Calculating payroll in social care is often a complex task, so it’s not surprising that almost half of care providers struggle with it. Managing multiple rates, wage uplifts, shared care and signing off overtime are just some of the factors that need to be considered when calculating your care workers’ pay.

But also, retention struggles, changing shift patterns and unexpected absences can add to existing pressures. That’s because it’s not always possible to simply swap in another employee to fill a shift; a care worker, for example, may have unique qualifications or training that can’t easily be substituted by someone else on your team.


63% say individuals within finance teams spend between 4-10 hours per month each amending invoice discrepancies

Things like complex calculations, time-consuming processes and managing different funding types can create challenges for social care organisations when it comes to invoicing. But when mistakes are made, it slows down your operations and for many organisations, their finance teams are spending a significant amount of time correcting invoice errors.

Because of this, our respondents may find their finance teams are having to be redirected away from other key areas of their role. And for many industries including the social care sector, time is money, so while teams spend longer being reactive rather than proactive, it may mean pulling resources away from other essential operations.


2. Demand vs Supply

47% struggle having enough carers available to fulfil commissioned hours

More care providers are struggling this year to have enough carers to fulfil care commitments (up from 45%). It’s widely recognised that the care sector continues to grapple with recruitment and retention issues. Factors such as being able to offer competitive pay or mismatched expectations of the role being possible influences here.

Also, the cost of delivering care has likely been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis, which may well be adding pressure on those who already struggle to fulfil commissioned hours. Four in ten adult social care providers, for instance, have handed back contracts or closed part of their service in the last year because of cost pressures, according to Community Care.


67% of CFOs feel penalties for empty property cause financial pressures

We noted a significant increase of CFOs saying their organisation is feeling the financial pressure of penalties for empty rooms this year (up from 34%). So while requests for care increased to a record 2 million in 2023, many care providers are finding it harder to meet those needs. Part of this reason could be, as previously mentioned, the cost of care is growing beyond the sector’s ability to provide it.

Another factor may be challenges around occupancy management. Unfilled beds can mean organisations are missing out on possible income and can lead to the fines many of our respondents are experiencing. Things like a lack of visibility of available rooms, losing contact with the enquirer or staffing challenges can all be reasons why properties remain empty.


3. Supporting Staff

33% of staff are unhappy as they want to spend more time delivering care rather than manual admin

Social care staff are increasingly unhappy with the amount of time they spend on manual administration instead of delivering care (up from 25%). Since the start of the Digitising Social Care programme, over 60% of providers use Digital Social Care Records. While progress is being made, it will likely become increasingly difficult for providers to attract a tech-savvy workforce and maintain high-quality care if they continue using out-dated, manual processes.

And we appreciate that admin will always be a significant part of care delivery, but it shouldn’t overshadow the ability to provide care. Empowering employees with the right resources, such as dedicated software that streamlines vital processes, means they can instead focus on what they do best: care.


81% of CEOs plan to get more support to help them manage their organisation

More CEOs plan to get help this year, to support them when managing their organisation (up from 63%). Although the exact help they plan to draw upon is unclear, it can be assumed that each organisation will likely have their own key priorities and strategies that they hope will enhance their service going forward.

Perhaps some of our respondents will look to promote learning and development opportunities for employees to build their careers. Some may look towards implementing dedicated software solutions to help relieve them of manual administrative burdens, giving more comprehensive visibility of their service. Others may be planning to build support networks with those in the sector to share experiences and ideas.

Whatever support they have planned, it’s clear that leadership teams are acutely aware of the challenges and opportunities both the sector and their service faces.

To learn more, download our free Care Trends Report 2024 where we take a deep dive into key perspectives and insights within social care, as told by those working in the sector.