• Castleoak

“Every part of the sector is looking for innovation"

Lisa Gledhill joined us as Group Director and MD, Developments last month. New to the care sector but not economic downturns, she writes in this month’s Care Agenda, Care England’s member publication, about the opportunity for the care sector and how working together is key to realising it in challenging times.

“Starting my career in real estate and construction in the early 90s, I learnt early doors that downturns are a regular feature of the economy.

“There’s no doubt we have a period of likely adversity and definite uncertainty ahead, but this is against the backdrop of a sector with huge need and potential: we have an ever-increasing market, significant social issues that we can contribute to solving, a purpose-driven agenda important to today’s best talent, and an attractive investment proposition that new entrants are keen to get a foothold in.

“Every part of the sector is looking for innovation, whether that’s a sustainability-led design solution, greater use of off-site manufacturing for faster, safer delivery or financial engineering to solve the mid-market issue. Being able to pull together across the whole sector, whilst being mindful of our current individual business challenges, will help us achieve our goals to the benefit of our common customer.

“Operators are seeking innovative solutions to major issues such as reprovisioning ageing properties, realising growth ambitions and reimagining care provision - all while facing significant challenges such as increased staff and equipment costs, ongoing recruitment, and working with residents and families distressed by isolation measures. Together, we can develop those solutions.

“At the same time, while construction might have some competition this time round, history shows us it is always among the worst hit in a downturn, as it can end up at the bottom of the pile, taking all the commercial pressure from above. While this can lead to adversarial relationships, redundancies and companies going under, what it definitely does not lead to is innovation and better solutions for our collective end-customers. Working in partnership guards against the former and fosters the latter.

“Early involvement of the construction supply chain and their designers is also critical now more than ever to bring innovative design solutions, faster and safer project programmes, reduced environmental impact and more. So strategic relationships that allow this are crucial, and must be founded on being fair with risk, paying on time and transparency on progress.

“Only if we all unite our agendas and perspectives will we be able to, not only bring the real change that is needed but do it through a downturn, not just maintaining but increasing project flow as we go. And with our collective customer always at the centre.”