10 Sep 2015
Those two words are probably all you need to sum up Anchor’s Business Plan. We made progress on both counts this week.
The 29 homes that have joined the Anchor family mean that we now serve more than 40,000 older people from more than 1,000 locations across England. The acquisitions in Essex and Suffolk and in the north and midlands are among the biggest in the sector in recent years. And, with new colleagues and customers joining us, it's important that we learn from each other to ensure we're all recognised as the best at what we do.
Some may question why we are expanding our care homes business when social care funding is so tight. But there's a strong demand for good quality care from organisations that won't compromise on quality.
I'm pleased that the homes we have acquired have solid reputations. With some of our new colleagues moving into our Bradford support hub this week, I'm sure it will encourage us to share ways of working to bring even better, cost-effective services for our customers.
Our care home Greenhive, the first in London to be rated 'outstanding' by the Care Quality Commission, was visited by Care Minister Alistair Burt MP today. And I used it as an opportunity to talk to him about what more the government can do to support our sector.
We’ve also got more than 200 guests coming to the opening of Mayflower Court care home in Southampton – our third completed development this year.
And the positive media coverage keeps coming, with stories about our apprenticeship scheme and a great piece in yesterday’s Daily Express for our innovative use of iPads.
One question we've been asked following the announcement of our care home acquisitions is whether they mean we are shifting our focus away from retirement housing. Absolutely not. Housing to rent and to buy remains the biggest part of our organisation and it is growing further with our new retirement villages and assisted living.
What's clear is that, while we need to be 'One Anchor' for customers, our housing and our care services face very different but equally big challenges. At a senior level, we will need to stay focused on both in the coming months.
With the Chartered Institute of Housing announcing this week that an estimated 145,000 housing association homes could be sold under the government’s right-to-buy proposals, I’ve been asked by several colleagues and customers what that means for Anchor.
Council-run retirement housing is exempt from right-to-buy for local authority tenants, so it's possible similar exemptions would apply if the scheme was extended to housing associations. We will keep close to developments so that we understand what it means for our customers and for our business.
Adapting to circumstances is something we’re strong at, and no more so than in continuing to meet the changing expectations of customers. Our Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey for Housing is underway, as well as the Your Care Rating survey running in our care homes.
We're now a bigger organisation. It's only by listening to customers and colleagues that we can ensure we are also the best.