February 21, 2017

The Shortcomings of For-Profit Care Homes in the UK

“I work in a not-for-profit care home group, because I don’t feel it is right to profit from care for the elderly”.

This is a common feeling among many care workers, and support staff in not-for-profit care home groups. It is also a well shared opinion generally, and there are people in the for-profit sector who agree with this sentiment whole heartedly.  Yet you don’t have to look far to find care home operators who are proud of the profits they make, and flaunt their success even on their own websites in an eighties style which Mrs Thatcher herself would be proud of. I’ve even seen one managing director lovingly draped over the side of his sports car. I’m not quite sure what message he is trying to send out to the family members of his potential residents. Then there are the care home groups who have a whole stable of top of the range motors outside their head offices.

For-profit is not a dirty word, there are residents of care homes who are prepared to pay for the best, and provided the best is delivered and the resident still gets great service and value for money, then I’m sure that nobody would complain or even raise an eyebrow. But when these care home operators employ their staff on below minimum wage, and skimp not only on all the food and services they provide, but also on training and the appropriate level of care staff to resident ratios, then we all have just cause to complain.

In the not too distant past many care home operators have expected to make 30% operating profit, which is why it attracts the wrong type of investor. This is why we have enormous ‘super care home groups’ such as Southern Cross Healthcare, who frankly didn’t provide the levels of care which could have been possible in all their care homes.

It seems quite obvious that the failing of Southern Cross, was their greed. Their owners and investors piled millions into the company in a quest to become the biggest care home operator, and then to keep on growing, to keep on making huge profits. Meanwhile the not-for-profit operators continued doing their job of providing good quality care at a reasonable price for a smaller profit.

It’s safe to say that those days of high profits are nearing an end, and there should not be any more care home groups expanding to the size of Southern Cross with their 750 care homes. With the recent acquisition of around 55 care homes, Four Seasons Healthcare will now become the largest care home operator in the UK, bringing their total number of care homes to around 360. The second largest care home operator will now be Bupa Healthcare, with around 305 care homes, and third will be Barchester Healthcare, with around 200 care homes. The fourth largest care home group is now Anchor Healthcare with 100 care homes and fifth will be The Orders of St John Care Trust, with 75 care homes. Both Anchor and OSJCT are not-for-profit companies.

Let us hope and pray that we never see another care home group go the way of Southern Cross, as a result of their own greed.

YourCareHome.co.uk is a popular directory website that lists UK based Care and Nursing Homes, as well as providing news and insights in to the care home industry.

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