Taking Care of Business

Blog: Part 1

by Paul Zalkin

As trusted corporate finance and restructuring advisers, we’re always keen to hear the views of the people who run and work in the sectors we know particularly well.  One of those areas is the care-home sector.  

That’s why we recently conducted a survey of the sector, in collaboration with leading trade publication The Carer.

Almost 400 front-line staff, managers and directors took the time to respond to our questions, to help us better understand their concerns for the sector and the issues keeping them awake at night.   
So, what did the survey result unveil for this unique sector, which is complex, underfunded and heavily regulated yet responsible for delivering care to society’s most vulnerable people.   

The issues 

Looking at short, medium and long-term concerns, front-line staff repeatedly referred to operational issues, notably the impact of staffing levels and costs on the quality of care provided. Directors and managers are mainly preoccupied with fees, funding, competition and regulatory issues. 

Unsurprisingly, in these turbulent political times, potential changes to policy at local and national government level also cropped up as a concern for directors and shareholders. There is uncertainty and concern about how care homes will be funded, depending on which political party is in power at the time.  

The survey results also demonstrated one of the greatest challenges of the sector; the juxtaposition of front-line staff who want to deliver an excellent care service, but who aren’t directly involved in financial performance; owners looking for a return on capital; and management teams, who are tasked with bridging the gap between the two.  

In distress

Many care-home businesses are able to overcome the challenges facing them whereas others struggling with financial problems are often unable to identify a way forward. We are often either contacted directly, for advice, by the directors of the care home itself or from a lender to a care home. 

At that point, we often find that the business has been experiencing difficulties for some time – and as in any sector or walk of life, not seeking out help as soon as you need it can exacerbate the problem. 

We encourage the directors of care homes facing operational or financial difficulties to seek early professional advice. They need to know that if they have issues and concerns, help is out there. 

The first thing our specialists do when contacted by a care home is to listen carefully and objectively. They then offer initial, informal advice and guidance at no cost, focusing on recovery and rescue strategies. They are under no obligation to then engage us officially, but most choose to do so.  

Not only do our specialists understand the key issues they’re facing, but they are also mindful of the needs of vulnerable service users. After all, everyone has older relatives and we are very likely going to get old ourselves. So, empathy and compassion, along with sound advice, is key.  

With an ageing population, there is continuing pressure on the care-home sector. So, if your care-home business or one you are working with could benefit from advice, get in touch with our specialists at the earliest opportunity. 

Paul Zalkin is a partner and licensed insolvency practitioner at leading business advisory firm Quantuma. Paul has almost 25 years’ experience of working with businesses in a wide range of business sectors helping them overcome financial and operational challenges.  During this time Paul has worked with a large number of care homes and has developed unique insight into the challenges they face. Over the last decade Paul has developed a niche in the care home sector and is a go-to adviser for distressed care home operators and their funders.  Paul is regularly invited to speak at sector conferences and to share his thoughts with leading trade publications.