How to Start a Business in Nursing Care for the Elderly

Written by Chloe Harwood

With an aging population, it makes sense that there are now more and more nursing and care homes being opened around the country. There are so many needs to be met that this expanding market is desperate for new entrepreneurs who can make things better.

Even if you don’t have a background in medicine, with enough research and plenty of empathy, as a business person, you could make a real difference in this industry. The complications are usually about finance and business modelling rather than medicine so as long as you employ the best possible staff, you can focus on the numbers.

What Should You Offer?

Many nursing homes offer a range of services to cover the needs of those in their local area. Some of the most common specialisms are dementia care and nursing care for those who are sick. You can also find care homes that offer a balance between care and independence with residents who are just looking for a new community of people their own age.

To decide what you should offer, the first thing to do is some market research. If there is already a care home offering outstanding dementia care, it could be that all the needs are fulfilled. But you should also look at the demographics of the area as it may be that by the time you are opening your doors there are many more people looking for that sort of facility.

You also need to think about what you can handle yourself. Before you get into this business, you should really do some work experience to find out what it is really about. Just a couple of weeks might show you that nursing care is too complex for your start-up now, but could be something you develop later on. Similarly, this time should be used to find out what the expenses are and how other facilities cut costs.

Who Should You Hire?

Once you have decided which services you will be offering, you should then start looking for suitable staff. It might be that this process also influences the services you offer and vice versa so keep an open mind and interview a wide variety of candidates to see how you can put a good team together. Hiring the wrong team is a catastrophic error so if you aren’t sure, ask an industry professional for help.

Like all business, care homes have a staff structure that means that everyone is fully supported. For example, you will need someone in charge 24/7, medically trained professionals, cooks, cleaners and other staff who are there to care for and keep an eye on residents. As health and safety is absolutely paramount in this environment, you need to think about how many staff you need, not how many you can get away with. You do not want to be understaffed.

You may also need to employ interim staffing from time to time. This is because when your regular staff take time off, you need to be in line with regulations. So, for example, if your usual manager wants to take some time away to go on a sabbatical, you will need someone to cover that position while they are away. As interim staffing is quite common in the health and care industry, there are sites that are dedicated to finding the best temporary staff. See for some great examples.

Is Running a Business Like This Expensive?

Whether your residents are paying out of their own savings or they are using their health insurance to get the care they need, you will have a very tight budget to work with. Unlike other businesses where you might be able to take a shortcut here or raise a bit more money there, you will need to learn to provide top notch care on a minimal budget.

If you are the kind of business person who is great at securing excellent deals then this environment and industry is crying out for your talent. While you can’t very well start charging your residents more, if you can cut costs with suppliers here and there then you will do well. However, do be warned that it is the level of care you offer that will make you a popular choice, not your frugality. It might be cheaper to serve your residents budget meals, but if they tell their relatives that they are eating the same things every day, you will have angry family to deal with.

The best thing to do is find the balance. You will need to pay your staff well to encourage the very best in the are to work for you and you shouldn’t scrimp on the environment you create either. However, you should find ways to reduce costs in practical ways such as choosing the best energy provider, figuring out cheaper ways to entertain your residents and getting the most from your staff.

Again, looking at the way other care homes are run will give you a good idea of what to expect and they will have plenty of cost-cutting tips for you too.

Nursing care is not the kind of business you go into for the wealth and riches. Instead, this is a business opportunity well-suited to a business person who wants to give something back to the community and make a real difference to people’s lives.

Elderly people are more vulnerable than they might like to think so creating an environment where they can shine during the last years of their life is an incredible thing to offer. The more you can do to keep them safe and happy, the more successful you will be and the more fulfilling your job will be too.

This is not an easy business to run, but with the right staff, a good attitude and an understanding of what people’s basic needs are, you should be on the right track to building something amazing. We are all growing older and it is likely that for most of us, nursing care is an inevitable future. You have the chance to shape that future now.

About the author

Chloe Harwood