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The Cost of Errors: Avoiding Mistakes in Social Care
Blog //22-11-2023

The Cost of Errors: Avoiding Mistakes in Social Care

by Health and Care, OneAdvanced Public Sector

Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents to our Care Trends Report 2023 told us they experience errors with their payroll processes. In the world of social care, where things are constantly buzzing and resources can be stretched thin, there really isn’t much wriggle room for mistakes and payroll errors. It's a challenging industry, with tight margins and high stakes, so we understand the pressure you likely feel.

So, how many of us can say we’ve never made a mistake at work. A forgotten attachment here, an incorrectly updated spreadsheet there. These sorts of little mistakes can happen all the time but even the smallest errors can have a significant impact on your organisation.

We’re taking a look at how making errors and payroll mistakes can impact your social care organisation, and some strategies that could help prevent mistakes being made.

What can cause errors in social care?

Processes within social care can be extremely complex, and it's no secret that with complexity comes the increased risk of making mistakes. Some reasons for mistakes to occur may be:

How making errors can create costs for your social care organisation

  • Added operational costs

When mistakes occur, it can often halt progress being made because you’re having to go back, find the error and fix it. But one small issue may have even created a domino effect on other processes, making the tidy up even bigger.

These inefficiencies can then cause increased costs, if for example, there has been a misallocation of resources, incorrect billing or mishandled paperwork that has led to time being wasted. All of which has meant you have potentially spent money on misused time. It’s these hidden costs that can be harder to detect and therefore solve.

  • Inflation pressures

Just like many other industries, social care providers have likely been feeling the impact of inflation pressures. You’ve probably already seen rising costs for essential resources like staffing, equipment, food and electricity in your organisation, just to name a few.

As prices creep up, your profit margins may be squeezed even further. And the cost of any errors that occur can add to the pressure you may already be experiencing with these extra expenses.

How making payroll errors can impact your social care organisation

  • High turnover rates

Frequent occurrences of errors, particularly when it comes to your employee’s payroll, can often leave your staff with growing levels of dissatisfaction. Some may even look to other opportunities in hope of more reliable pay. And in a sector that continues to struggle with recruitment and retention challenges, this is the last thing you need.

High turnover rates can leave you constantly recruiting, training and certifying new permanent staff (alongside tapping into agency use for expensive, short-term cover). And the extra time and money you’re needing for this is likely being amplified by high inflation and operational costs we explored earlier.

  • Frustrated employees

With all the complexities that come with calculating things like payroll in social care, it’s understandable that errors can occur, especially if you’re relying on manual processes to work out all the small details.

A survey conducted by Ernst & Young found approximately 1,139 payroll errors occur per 1000 employees. That’s 1.14 errors for every member of staff. And for a care organisation with 80 care professionals, this would amount to around 91 errors per year.

But even small miscalculations can directly impact your staffs’ financial stability, being particularly impactful during the current cost of living crisis. This financial uncertainty can be a cause of unnecessary stress for your teams and erode the trust they have in your organisation.

4 strategies for preventing mistakes in social care

So, what can care providers do to try and avoid making errors? We’ve put together some strategies that you may find beneficial:

1. Conduct regular audits

Conducting regular audits and quality checks can help you identify where errors are occurring or any potential areas for improvement. Being consistent, proactive and addressing any issues promptly can help prevent mistakes from recurring in the future.

2. Nurture communication channels

Sometimes when we make a mistake, we might be worried about what people will say if they find out. Or if we find an error, we might not know the exact process to go through to get it resolved. But it shouldn’t be this way.

You may try tackling this by fostering open and transparent communication channels within your organisation, as well as with any third party agencies. Encourage your staff and stakeholders to work together and report their concerns or potential mistakes promptly, so you can get the relevant teams on the case to resolve the issue before it can escalate or impact the quality of care being delivered.

And when you nurture these communication channels and encourage greater transparency - even when you have staff across multiple locations - your teams can better align themselves towards your organisational goals.

3. Encourage continuous learning and improvement

One of the first steps to avoiding mistakes is making sure everyone knows exactly what they should be doing. And in a busy sector like social care, you need to have the confidence that your teams can work with accuracy and with a level of autonomy.

After some comprehensive training, you may want to encourage your teams to keep updated of any changes in regulations and promote best practices to help minimise the chances of errors or complacency creeping in over time.

4. Digitise your processes

We briefly mentioned earlier that manual processes or disjointed practices can be the cause of some of the errors you are seeing, especially if you have multiple care locations. If you haven’t yet looked into digital solutions (or your current system is no longer meeting your needs), it may be time to start exploring how technology can transform the management of your care organisation.

Care business management software helps to streamline your key operational processes, helping to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of your service. Cloud-based solutions, such as Care Cloud, are flexible to your needs, instantly updates any changes, and is completely accessible no matter when or where you need it, so you can keep track of your care locations even when you’re not on site.

Designed for all types of care provider, Care Cloud helps you work proactively and quickly respond to any changes the day brings.

Take a look at our blog for guidance when choosing a digital solution: Your guide for choosing the right social care software


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