Care Show 2019 panel provides open and honest insight into the funding market
The Care Show has changed its format more times than I can remember in recent years, but the event held in mid-October seemed like a return to form. A collaboration with the United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA) broadened the appeal and resulted in a good mix of operators from different backgrounds. There were a couple of key takeaways for me…
Lawrence Roberts, Finance Consultant at Christie Finance attended ‘The Provider Information Return (PIR) – Making it work for you’ seminar by Ed Watkinson, QCS. This session highlighted the importance of the procedural changes that came into force in August 2019 but will only be experienced by operators in the run up to their next CQC inspection. If the new pre-inspection questionnaire is not submitted in time the subject home cannot be rated better than ‘Requires Improvement’ under the ‘Well-led’ category. Lawrence commented ‘The introduction of PIR also enables operators to demonstrate why they should be rated highly, highlighting the work they have completed to demonstrate excellence or what steps they have undertaken to rectify previous issues. In my opinion, this new document is the start of the CQC inspection, providing the operator with the ability to engage early with the inspector’.
I attended ‘The Funding Market – an update on current trends’ featuring a panel discussion with a number of representatives from UK lenders. Some interesting points were made regarding the issues created by poorly designed lending criteria in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s and how the market still suffers from the legacy of these issues. It’s sometimes useful to be reminded why it can be so tough to arrange funding for operators in this sector, especially first-time buyers. One banker was particularly honest in their appraisal of the types of homes they look to support – essentially only modern purpose built, high performing homes with strong underlying bricks and mortar. I think this last point reinforces the importance of using a broker such as Christie Finance for anything other than the most straightforward of deals.
Following the lender discussion there were some interesting questions from the audience, particularly regarding the home care market with some useful information to be found in the UKCHA’s report ‘The Homecare Deficit 2018’. Well worth a read for anyone considering entering this market.
The Christie Finance stand was a great opportunity to meet potential entrants, existing operators and to touch base with some familiar faces. It’s always helpful to hear directly from operators the challenges and successes they’re experiencing in the sector, as well as providing the opportunity to allay their fears around the availability of funding in the sector. It’s unquestionably become more challenging to arrange finance for care operators but there still plenty of options available and challenger banks and fin-tech players are slowly picking up the slack being created by more traditional funding options.