Who is it suited to?
Far from being the sole domain of experienced nurses, the care industry is open to people from a wide range of backgrounds. Having said that, however, people with medical or care experience naturally feature strongly in the sector.
“They are often nurses who want to go into business for themselves, usually with a husband who has been a professional of some kind. We work with a lot of doctors and other people from the caring industry – and we get a lot of entrepreneurs as well,” says Read.
He adds that whatever their background, care home purchasers nevertheless share a common asset.
“There is one element that is common to everyone who buys a nursing home. They are all people who are successful, because to buy a nursing home you’ll probably need at least £100,000 of your own money. If you haven’t got this to start with, you’ll have problems raising the necessary finance.”
Apart from your background and financial situation, however, owning a care home also requires a certain type of personality. Long explains: “First and foremost you must have a desire to care for the elderly. Then you need to have management skills, be able to organise staff and create a good working atmosphere that will rub off on your residents.
It is not a simple nine-to-five industry. You may be interrupted in the small hours if there’s an emergency. For example, if a client is dying – and in the care home industry this is a reality – you will need to deal with it but also be sympathetic. It takes a special kind of individual to deal with this.”
Remember that this is also a business as well. “One of the things that does help is if you have management experience. Dealing with staff and dealing with the authorities and administration are the main responsibilities, since the caring will usually come down to the care manager,” says Read.
In fact, the amount of hands-on caring will depend greatly on your experience and qualifications. If you have the qualifications to register yourself as a care manager, then you will be heavily involved in the day-to-day care of your residents. If you don’t have the necessary skills, then you will have to hire a qualified care manager, which will require a larger home to support it, and you will focus on running the business and managing the staff.
It is also worth bearing in mind that this is not the industry for those who prefer to stay clear of government authorities and red tape.
“You will be inspected on a regular basis, twice a year, and they will be unannounced inspections, at any time of day or night. Being a private care home means that you are simultaneously being in charge of your own ship while also working for the local authorities. You are highly regulated and because the local authority will also be your main purchaser, paying for maybe 15 out of 20 beds,” says Long.