Buying a care home – the first steps

Buying and running a care home can be a highly profitable business venture as well as a rewarding lifestyle choice and, according to recent statistics, the customer demand for them is only going to increase.

The British population is an ageing one and experts have predicted that the demand for a room at a care home will growth by more than three quarters in the next 20 years, with some 190,000 more elderly Brits requiring care by 2035, according to statistics published in The Lancet. This is thanks to a rise life expectancy and an increase in the number of older men and women who need 24-hour care given higher rates of elderly illness and disability.

In this week’s blog, we will explore the first steps you might take to run your very own care home, and some of the questions you might ask yourself before setting off on your care career

Is it for me?

A good place to start, as running a care home is a large undertaking and will not suit every business buyer. The financial commitment is significant, to start with, and you will need to work long and emotionally exhausting hours too. A genuine desire to care for the elderly is important, too, in order to create a good working atmosphere that residents will appreciate.

Other desirable skills might include:
- Good management skills
- Ability to manage and organise staff effectively
- Strong administrative knowledge
- The patience to pay attention and adhere to numerous regulations
- A practical mind, but also compassion, tact and sympathy

What about qualifications, rules and regulations?

Beyond the above, any care home needs to adopt a formal care manager who will take responsibility for the day-to-day treatment of your residents. They must have a formal qualification relevant to the care services your business will provide, like health or social care, nursing or occupational therapy. This person will also need to be DBS checked, require two years’ experience in senior care management and a level-four NVQ in care and management.

As we mentioned above, excellent management skills and a good grasp of the rules and regulations that affect the care sector are very important, too. The Care Standards Act, which came into power in 2002, stipulates the requirements of care managers and is enforced by The National Care Standards Commission. This body will also interview every registered individual and inspect their premises at least twice a year – at any time of day or night – to ensure they are meeting guidelines.

More detail of these requirements are available online, but they generally place strict limits on the minimum living space that you must provide per resident, access for those with special needs and assisted bathroom rules.

Care homes must also comply with Health and Safety regulations, be registered with the Environmental Health department to comply with the Food Safety Act.

What type of care home should I look for?

With this in mind – and acknowledgement of the homework you’ll need to do – the next stage is to decide what sort of care home you would like to buy: a residential or a nursing home.

Residential homes are those that provide for elderly people who cannot get by in their own homes. They provide meals, accommodation, help with personal care such as bathing and dressing, and emotional or physical support. Though they can provide care for patients through short illnesses, they are not necessarily equipped with the staff or equipment to deal with longer-term conditions. They make up around 70 per cent of homes in the UK.

Another 20 per cent of homes do provide care for long-term illnesses as well as the features mentioned above: nursing homes. These are subject to stricter rules and regulations due to this extra care provided, and will feature a qualified nurse on the premises for 24 hours a day.

The remaining 10 per cent of the country’s homes come under the specialist category and can provide services for a range of more specific needs, such as emotional, behavioural or learning difficulties, brain injuries, substance abuse or acute psychiatric problems. Though these facilities often command very high fees per patient they require a high level of expertise and present a huge undertaking for a novice buyer.

With this in mind and more of an idea about the kind of care home you might like to buy, we can move onto the nitty-gritty business of the money you will need, the location of your home and the risks that could come further down the line.