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10 Oct 2023

Hot Take: Sustainability still matters

Hot Take: Sustainability still matters

Caring Times editor-in-chief Lee Peart says care providers must continue to take the initiative on developing sustainable policies and practices despite faltering leadership from government.

September was not a good month for sustainability. As the UK was wracked with storms, we had the unedifying spectacle of an increasingly desperate Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who remains behind in the polls, grubbily scrabbling around for votes by backtracking on environmental commitments on the back of popular opposition in London to the Mayor’s ULEZ expansion. In a cynically populist move, Sunak announced a five-year delay in the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, while insisting the UK would still hit its net zero target by 2050.

Labour, for its part, suffered the ignominy of a protest by Extinction Rebellion protestors at its London HQ, after it scaled down its commitment to fund the transition to clean energy.

Meanwhile, despite the habitual lack of leadership from politicians, social care continued to advance its green agenda.

Speaking at Spectrum Care’s Demystifying ESG event at Colliers in London last month, managing director of BKR Care Consultancy, Bhavna Keane-Rao, provided an update on the Social Care Sustainability Alliance’s work on producing guidance for operators on implementing a sustainability strategy. The Alliance hopes to publish the first of a rolling programme of guidance this month, covering the business case for sustainability, the regulatory framework and retrofitting.

Barclays’ head of healthcare, Steve Fergus, also warned attendees that the CQC and banks would expect care home operators to have sustainability plans in place within the next few years.

In September, I was also inspired by market leader Oakland Care’s trailblazing innovations in sustainability during a visit to its wildlife garden at Maplewood Court in Maidstone, which has been set up with the support of Kent Wildlife Trust and Low Carbon Kent. The wildlife garden is the flagship example of Oakland Care’s market leading sustainability ethos which has resulted it in becoming the only certified carbon neutral care home group.

Oakland Care has now set its sights on its forthcoming Harpenden site becoming its first net zero care home, while plans are also under way to roll out wildlife gardens in its eight other homes, beginning with the recently launched Hyden Heights in Hildenborough, Kent.

All of this gives me hope that despite the usual leadership vacuum in government, social care will continue to take the lead when it matters.


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