Bield Housing & Care has outlined some details from its new Business Strategy that will secure its long-term future and ensure it can continue to provide high quality housing and associated services for older people in Scotland.
Having been in the pipeline for some months, the new strategic direction will see Bield consolidate its services around housing and support services, provide greater clarity around value for money and focus on an improved level of choice for both current and future customers.
It is also set to withdraw from all registered care home provision, decommission housing support activity in its Very Sheltered Housing and implement its new Retirement with Meals Service and conduct a review of administration and back office costs.
The latter changes are seen as a priority and will be implemented within the first 12-18 months of the five year strategy.
Bield Housing & Care chief executive, Brian Logan, said the decision, while not taken lightly, is in the best interests of the organisation’s long-term future and sustainability.
By the end of 2022, Bield will:
- Seek to be the housing provider of choice for older people in Scotland.
- Develop a menu of tailored services, with greater choice and flexibility for customers.
- Develop Housing with Care solutions and build a new Bield@Home home care service.
- Develop innovative technology solutions to meet the needs of older people by building upon the skills and knowledge of its successful BR24 operation.
- Review and reduce its back office costs considerably, by undertaking a substantial overhead review.
- Continue to develop new homes for older people, and consolidate its geographic footprint.
- Continue to develop services for home owners in Scotland through its successful Owner Services operation.
Brian Logan said: “The way organisations provide services to older people has changed significantly from the position 20-30 years ago. Changes in technology, the way homes are constructed and the expectations of customers all continue to move at pace. Whilst the majority of Bield stock is fit for purpose, we need to look to the future to ensure it continues to be sustainable.
“Bield need to provide innovative solutions to address the needs and aspirations of the next generation of older people.
“Like others in the social care sector we are facing challenges and financial constraints meaning we constantly have to look differently at how we operate. Reliance on the public sector to fund our business continues to be eroded and wider changes in the economic, political and global marketplace have influenced our need for change. To continue as we have done previously would compromise the vital work we do to support and care for thousands of older people across Scotland.
“This new strategy will create a new-look Bield that is well positioned for the future – and can continue to provide the best services possible to help improve the lives of older people.
“In an environment where costs will continue to increase, often at a rate greater than inflation, where income is under severe pressure due to cuts in local authority funding and a desire to keep rents and service charges affordable, we have agreed that a longer-term solution is required to strengthen our finances and allow us to meet our long-term mission, vision and strategic objectives.”
Mr Logan added: “However, as a result of this new Strategy, we have made the very difficult decision to withdraw from the residential care home market. This is a fundamental step and one which we do not take lightly, but it is in the best interests of the long-term future and sustainability of our organisation.
“In addition, we will change existing Very Sheltered Housing Services to a Retirement Housing with Meals service where Housing Support is no longer provided. This model has been successfully rolled out to four developments during the last year.
“The decision to make these changes to services, and in particular the withdrawal of care home services, is very much a last resort option. We have carefully considered a wide range of options to continue delivery of these services however, we have been unable to find a solution that will be viable in the longer term.
“It is important to stress, where feasible we will continue to operate an element of care provision, through our Bield at Home service and we will work with partners to develop Housing with Care services.
“We are aware of the serious impact these changes will make to people who use our services, their families and our staff. Those impacted by the changes have been advised and in the coming weeks and months we will be holding consultation meetings to communicate the reasons for the decision and discuss what options are available to those affected – with the aim of minimising the impact as far as possible.
“Our five year vision is bold and we aim to transform our organisation by 2022. To start this, we have agreed to make the biggest and hardest changes first and have these implemented within the next 12-18 months.
“We remain committed to supporting the older people of Scotland and believe these changes will allow us to better position ourselves in this market, where there is clear growth potential.”