Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis and partner of BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com, offers guidance to prospective care home owners
People are living much longer lives these days. This also means that more people are living for longer with a range of support needs. According to Age UK, the leading charity for older people, at least 400,000 people live in care homes.
With an ageing population, this number is only going to increase. The scale of future demand is huge. There are 5.4m people in the UK aged over 75 and 1.6m aged over 85. The market for places in good quality care homes is growing, making it a good time to enter the business.
Do your homework
If you are considering entering the marketplace as a prospective care home owner, it’s important to do your homework. Get your research done before starting a search for suitable properties. This way you will be aware of all the regulatory and legal requirements for care homes.
By law, all care homes in England must meet the nationally regulated standards for quality and safety. To maintain these standards the Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducts regular inspections of all care homes. Care homes are inspected twice a year. The CQC can arrive unannounced, 24 hours a day.
The CQC has a duty to ensure that people registered as care providers are fit and proper people to be responsible for the care and wellbeing of others. Care home owners cannot operate a care home until they have completed the process to become a registered care provider.
The registration process is not a case of filling in a quick form. There are quite a few stages to complete. The whole process could take a month or more. Steps include: obtaining CQC countersigned DBS checks, writing a statement of purpose, providing references and evidence of financial viability. There is also the main application form. This stringent process ensures applicants have the necessary skills and experience needed to run a care home safely.
The CQC will visit the premises to complete an inspection as well as interview the applicant. If the care provider is not going to be in full-time charge of the service, a registered care home manager must be employed. This is a considerable additional cost. The registered manager will also need to be part of the registration process. The CQC, not the care home owner, determines if a registered manager is required in the care home.
If this process feels daunting, don’t worry; the CQC website provides you with clear step-by-step instructions. There is also pre-application registration advice available on the telephone or online.
Finding the right property
Before starting your property hunt, it’s also important to be aware of the CQC regulations for the care home environment. For example, there are minimum requirements stipulated for sizes of communal and private rooms. There are also regulations about en-suite facilities, entry and exit points and ceiling heights.
This article has provided a summary of the key considerations for potential care home owners. Hopefully, this has given you the confidence to take the next step and look for a suitable care home property.
There are a few ways to go about this. You can try going through a business broker that specialises in care home sales, you can search online marketplaces with businesses for sale or you could approach businesses directly. No matter how you find a business to buy, don’t forget the legal requirements that you need to keep in mind before making an offer.