Industry sector:

Care home: Market research


When you plan your care home business it's essential to make a realistic estimate of how much demand there will be, and of the extent of local competition. Doing some market research will help you with this.

How much competition is there?

Your main competitors are, broadly, other care homes within your local authority area - and specifically, other local care homes that offer a similar level of quality and service to your own.

Have a browse on Yell.com and look through local directories for residential and retirement homes, nursing homes and convalescent homes. Try searching the web too. Your local authority may have a list of residential and nursing care providers on their website. Make notes about the range of services that they offer - many will include details in their advertisement. Go and look at some of the homes in your area - are they upmarket and exclusive, smart and pleasant, or perhaps shabby and run down? Try to find out something about their reputation - you could check their latest inspection rating (where applicable) and search online for reviews and opinions.

Don't ignore homes that offer a narrower range of services than your own - at times when funds are tight, local authorities may try to save money by opting wherever possible to provide the lowest acceptable level of care.

Find out about any homes that are owned by the local authority or by a charitable organisation - it may be the case that these are favoured by the local authority because they are considered to offer better value. Look out too for homes in your area owned by major companies - these are usually large and very efficiently run. Try to find out whether your local authority has an 'approved providers' list - if it does, consider taking steps to get your home on it.

Use the Record Sheet to help you with this aspect of your market research.

Domiciliary care services

Domiciliary care is an alternative to looking after elderly, infirm or otherwise vulnerable people in a care home. Special businesses exist to provide in-home care for such people. In some cases, existing care home businesses have branched into this area of the market. Fees are normally lower than in a care home and domiciliary care can, where appropriate, offer an attractive alternative to local authorities and private individuals looking for the best value option.

Try to find out about domiciliary care provision in your region. It may be that your local authority appears to favour this approach. You could look into offering this type of service yourself.

Clients

Depending on the type of services that you offer, your residents might be elderly people, people with learning difficulties, people with physical disabilities or possibly those suffering from a specific condition or illness. Although your residents may come from anywhere in the country, many will be people from within your region.

Find out as much as possible about the local population to help you make sure that your nursing home meets local demand. Local authority funding is means tested - is yours a wealthy area, where many people are likely to have savings or insurance policies with which to pay your fees? Or are most people likely to be eligible for state funding?

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