If you are a care home, or indeed any, business owner and have not seen the film “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, then you should because it carries a warning. With an all-star cast, it chronicles the encouraging fortunes of a miscellaneous group of British citizens who retire to a hotel in India. Far fetched? Maybe. Then maybe not.
According to Dr Solomon Darwin of Berkeley University, Americans are already flying to India for life-rescuing operations. The hospitals there use the same equipment, sometimes operated by doctors and surgeons who trained in the USA, and the costs to the patient are a fraction of the costs of the same operation in the States. Of course, operations are “free” in the UK but what proportion of one’s remaining life might be spent in pain, waiting for an operation on an NHS waiting list?
Think about call centres, I hear you say. Many companies have outsourced to India only to bring those call centres back to the UK. But like manufactured goods, services in India (China, Korea, Thailand, etc) will get better. The first appearance at the Isle of Man TT by a Japanese team was met with derision. But within a few years not only were the Japanese cycles winning, but the UK motorcycle factory in Meriden had closed.
Prosperity is moving inexorably towards the East. Japan, a primitive country 100 years ago, may have had its own financial crisis recently but it is still the third largest economy in the world today. And, having left the steel industry in the 1970s, it is curious for me to see closed UK steel plants are being re-opened by Indians and Thais.
There is a new balance in the world and we will have to keep that in mind, whether we are in manufacturing, services or the care sector. Innovation, says Dr Darwin, is the key. SMEs should collaborate with other businesses, sharing their knowledge and experience openly to innovate.
For now it may be far fetched to see our care homes outsourced to India, but perhaps not as much so as it first appears.