- National leaders need to listen as 17,000 people in care home doubt
- High quality care homes stop offering residential care for older people
- Scotland needs new ways to support and care for people
17,000 people who live in, or receive care from Britain’s second largest care home operator, Four Seasons, are today left in doubt about where they live, as the private equity firm Terra Firma pleads with lenders to approve a financial rescue package for it. Four Seasons was saddled with huge debts to its own owners after they bought the care provider in 2012. This £220m debt, loaned at 15%, will earn Terra Firma £660m by 2022. The financial struggles emerged today as part of the Paradise Papers leaks.
But it is the small signs, like the canary in the coalmine, that we need to listen to. Last week, Bield Housing, a high quality care provider, made the decision to withdraw from running residential care homes across Scotland, on the basis that this is no longer a viable financial business due to falling funding from local authorities.
The decision by Bield, although small by comparison, is the more profound. When a high quality provider walks away from an industry saying it is uneconomic, then our national leaders need to listen.
These two very different examples show, more clearly than ever, that we need new ways of caring in order to provide the dignity and care to our older family members.
There are options.
Using Shared Lives, older people can live in their own home and communities for longer. Their paid Shared Lives carer supports them to continue to live the life they know, their friendships, their families and their communities. Delaying the move into residential care leads to better lives for older people and their relatives who know their elderly parent is cared for by someone they have got to know and trust.
Alternatively using Homeshare, older people are matched with someone who needs a place to live and wants to share some of their time. The curses of loneliness and housing dealt with simultaneously.
There are always other ways to do things, let's not allow the greed of private equity and the collapse of an industry to destroy the lives of our parents.