Joan McAlpine wonders whether private and care home belong in same sentence as residential care companies claim they ‘can’t make ends meet’.
Private care homes are in crisis, according to their industry body.
That simple statement, reported in the Scottish media this week, contains a few klaxon-call words.
Crisis, obviously, is intended to set the sirens screaming. But the words “private” and “industry” should also trigger alarm bells.
Should looking after sick elderly people be considered an industry? And should it be in the hands of the private sector at all?
A large number of the residential care companies claiming they “cannot make ends meet” are run for a profit. Some of the bigger ones even pay shareholders.
It therefore sticks in the craw a bit to hear such organisations claim they cannot provide the care they receive large amounts of public money to deliver.
They moan about being told to pay the Scottish living wage to their workers – yet the Scottish Government have provided the money to allow this to happen.
Right across the UK, we are told the care home sector is on its knees. Yet for some entrepreneurs it has been extremely lucrative.
In 2016, three “care multi-millionaires” worth a total of £474million made it on to the Sunday Times Rich List.
They included Keith Bradshaw and his family, estimated by the Rich List to be worth £190million – an increase of £10million on the previous year.
Bradshaw created BP Nursing in the 90s – a “boom time” for the industry. His company, then called Care First, were sold to Bupa in 1998 for close to £300million. He then built up a successful network of car dealerships.
Also on the 2016 Rich List was Gordon Sanders, who made his money from Runwood Homes, looking after 4000 people across the UK.
He was estimated to be to be worth £144million last year. The Sunday Times pointed out that he was an experienced property developer and it was his skill in this sector that he turned to good use in care – notably through constructing new buildings and refurbishing old ones.