Uptake of digital expense management has risen by more than 125% in the past 12 months.

Care homes are seeing the end of petty cash and are transitioning to digital solutions, according to recent figures from expense management specialists Expend.

Their latest data confirms that the uptake of digital expense management in care homes, for elderly and youth residents, has risen by more than 125% in the past 12 months.

CEO Johnny Vowles says the care home sector is “accelerating toward the adoption of digital expense management, signalling the demise of traditional petty cash for everyday business expenses.”

For a long time, petty cash in care homes has been the default choice for handling small, day-to-day expenses. These can include regular purchases made for residents, such as weekly shopping,  online purchases, as well as haircuts, trips and coffees.

However, it presents its own set of challenges. Physical cash transactions are not only cumbersome but also susceptible to issues like loss, theft, and a lack of accountability. Managing and reconciling petty cash transactions can become a time-consuming task, leading to inaccuracies and potential financial discrepancies.

Johnny Vowles explains: “Care home managers often find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities, and the last thing they need is the additional burden of manual expense processing. Digital solutions automate repetitive tasks, such as data entry and approval workflows, freeing up valuable time for managers to concentrate on providing quality care.”

He adds: “Digital expense management signals the modernisation of conventional expense tracking and reimbursement processes, through digital tools and technologies.”

Prepaid cards and apps: a modern solution

Expend say that managing care home expenses is complex, with varied needs across multiple locations, staff, and volunteers. Juggling numerous receipts and payment methods adds to the challenge.

They report that prepaid cards, often known as expense cards, as well as apps, are providing a digital alternative to the challenges posed by petty cash. Cards can be used by care managers, care staff and other employees within a care centre, and each card can have a unique spending limit, offering a secure and controlled method for managing daily expenses. A primary advantage of a prepaid card is that there is no need to use or drop off cash.

The digital nature of card spend means that it can be controlled and capped for employees. Accounting for individual spend is automated, so spending for specific care home users can be tracked in real time, with expense reports being visible instantly. It also makes monitoring of card spend easy, for both care home management teams and the reassurance of the care users’ families. 

Prepaid cards are issued by universal operators like Mastercard, so are accepted everywhere and, linked to a smart phone app, receipts can be processed to an app right after transactions take place, for hassle-free reporting.

This approach means that team leaders can oversee spending at a glance, and with an expense management app, spend can be managed on the move. Employees and managers can use the mobile app to submit – or approve and review – expenses wherever they are, as they are not locked to desktop software.

Johnny Vowles says “Care home managers are embracing digital expense management at an unprecedented pace. They can see that a digital approach brings a broad range of benefits for their care homes and staff, directly improving operational efficiency, financial accuracy, and staff satisfaction.”

He adds: “Digital expense management means that care home teams can say goodbye to clunky paperwork, manual data entry, and the headache of misplaced receipts. Instead, a digital approach streamlines the entire expense lifecycle, from submission to approval and reimbursement.

“In a continuous bid to improve operational and cost efficiencies, more and more care home managers are turning to digital expense management as part of their cost saving strategy.”