Research conducted with social care providers across England, into their business continuity planning and preparations for emergency response, has exposed a lack of robust planning for dealing with business disruption incidents.
The Crises Control sponsored research found that as a sector social care providers were actually better prepared than most, largely because the CQC requires them to have a BC plan in place. However, many of them could have improved their incident response planning by adopting a number of recommendations for best practice in business continuity planning. Based on those recommendations we have produced a simple five-step process to protecting your clients and your business in the event of a business disruption incident.
- Make sure that you have a BC plan which is fit for purpose and not just a tick box exercise. Make sure that your plan is fit for use when an event strikes by creating a series of shorter action plans that fit each of your major threat scenarios. This will make it much more likely than they will be used in real time.
- Make sure that your BC plan, and action plans, will be available to you under all circumstances. Having a well written plan in place is absolutely no use to you if you cannot access it in an emergency. This is easily achieved by making sure that your plan is hosted in the cloud and can be accessed on all mobile devices.
- Review your risk register to make sure that it covers all of your possible threats. Many risk registers are based entirely on past experience and cover only events that have already happened to an organisation. This is likely to leave you vulnerable to more unpredictable events.
- Consider the benefits of a cloud based multi-channel communications platform. Having a multi-channel system, with phone, e-mail, SMS and push notifications, means that stakeholders can choose which channels they prefer and the message is guaranteed to get through somehow.
- Make sure that you have a testing and exercising programme in place. This should include a mixture of virtual, desktop and live tests and exercises. Having such a programme in place is standard BC good practice and greatly increases the chances of an effective incident response.
This five-step process would improve the incident response of most of the businesses we spoke to. We found that over 40% of social care providers either had no emergency communications system in place at all, or else had a system in place that would have been lost along with their IT network if they suffered from a loss of power. Such a disruption event is much more common than commonly thought, with half of the sample having actually suffered from a loss of power during the last 12 months.
Social care providers, along with many other businesses, often have a multi-site operation. The more operational locations you have, the more complex your business continuity needs are, and the more important it is that you proper BC planning and a robust communications system in place to support your incident response. A multi-channel communications platform like Crises Control can enable you to have a virtual command team in place, whatever their physical location, bringing all of your most experienced responders into play.
One final issue to think about is insurance. Having proper insurance cover in place is vital for any business and putting robust contingency planning in place can often help to reduce the cost of that cover. You will need to show that a thorough testing and reviewing regime has been maintained to avoid your policy being voided in the event of an insurance incident. Advance planning can also help to avoid the nightmare scenario of third party liability claims from the families of clients whose relatives may have suffered some kind of injury or loss during an emergency incident.
The full research paper, ‘Business continuity planning and social care homes’ covering the regulatory regime in social care homes, business drivers of business continuity planning, business disruption threats in the sector and recommendations for best practice, is available as a free download.