Care homes are covered by Health and Safety regulations similar to other places of work. Since you will be preparing food you will have to register with the Environmental Health department, which will help you comply with the Food Safety Act.
However, the Care Standards Act has also introduced new standards for care home buildings, which you will need to consider when viewing properties. Pinders, a specialist healthcare valuers, has outlined some main areas of concern.
The home must provide at least 14.1 sqm of living space per resident. There is some flexibility in how this space is distributed between communal space and bedroom space, but for most homes this will mean:
- At least 4.1 sqm communal space per resident
- At least 10 sqm of usable space in single bedrooms
- At least 16 sqm of usable space in shared bedrooms
It is thought that these rules will put many rooms out of use, and turn many shared rooms into single rooms. Also, existing homes must provide 80% of places in single rooms.
The new standards also require an assisted bathroom for every eight residents, and ramps and shaft lifts to provide access to all communal and private space.
Many converted care homes may fall foul of these standards. Commenting on the new regulations, Pinders said “Whilst the standards are to be welcomed, their implementation in existing homes is likely to result in disruption, expenditure and, in some cases, loss of capacity as it is either physically or financially impossible to affect the necessary change to the property.”
Looking for a business
It is vitally important that you check whether the business you are looking at is going to be affected by incoming regulations.
David King of Brent King Healthcare Consultancy says, “The Care Standards Acts is changing the whole industry and means that some of the older converted properties may not have a future. There are a lot of changes going on in the market, but with someone guiding you through the process, pre-empting the changes you will be okay.
“The main thing is to buy a property that has the flexibility to be adapted to the new standards. There are very few older homes that will not need some changes, and vendors are perhaps not being as free with the information as they could be. If in doubt, get a consultant to assess the properties, costs the changes that will need to be made and deduct the costs from the purchase price”
Another factor that will dictate the type of business that you look at is your experience. “If you are an owner occupier with the necessary qualifications to register yourself as a care manager, you will be able to buy a fairly small home, around 10-15 beds. Any non-qualified people will be buying a home with at least 20 beds, since anything smaller cannot support a care manager,” says King.
There is quite a wide selection of care homes available. Start by looking in Daltons weekly and on websites such as www.businessesforsale.com There is also a number of specialist agents and business finders concentrating on the care sector, and online resources such as www.buyacarehome.com
Once you have found a care home that you are keen to buy, you will probably need funding. Normally a lender will provide 70-75% of the purchase price.
Speak to your bank to let them know what you a planning to do, but also talk to specialist brokers who understand the sector and will be able to explain how it works.