Photo above: Brushwood Care Home in Speke
Two council-built care homes in Liverpool have gone bust, leaving 83 families scrambling to find homes for their loved ones. But why did the council allow a private company to run these homes, and what should they do now?
By Ritchie Hunter
Shaw Healthcare, who were given the contract to operate these £8m care homes – Brushwood in Speke and Millvina in Everton – have said that Covid-19 has led to unsustainable losses. So because they’re not making enough profit – typically between 20 to 30% – lives are put in danger and 132 jobs threatened.
Shaw Healthcare was co-founded by Julian Foulger, who is the senior principal of the Grand Cascade Group. Their website ‘Mission’ is to ‘engage in the acquisition and management of outstanding care homes both in the UK and internationally’. They claim that this is a ‘growing market’ in a ‘recession proof sector’ where their ‘real estate portfolio’ ‘provides safety and collaterals’ for their investors.
Welcome to the Private Equity world, where companies see the care sector as a ‘cash cow’. They now operate 13% of residential and nursing homes, with 56,700 beds. But, because of the pandemic, their investments are not making money and they’re struggling to survive.
It’s our aged and infirm relatives who are counting the cost – in lives. Forty per cent of care homes in England have been hit by Covid-19, brought on mainly by the transfer of the elderly from hospitals without testing or safety provision. Thousands of deaths, including many care workers, is the result. This crisis can only get worse, as Private Equity companies face financial ruin; although it’s likely they’ll be bailed out by this incompetent government, whose privatisation policies make the Covid-19 disaster much worse.
Of course there are many well run care homes who have remained safe. Which is another reason not to bail-out the equity companies. That would send the message ‘business as usual’ and mean more privatisation and misery.
For Liverpool Council the message is clear. Instead of shuffling our elderly around with dwindling resources, stand up to the government and insist on council-run care homes. Any bailout money should be used to improve care for the old and conditions for the workers. They should organise a fight back against privatisation and force the government to provide the means for safe and healthy care, free from stress and worry for everyone.
Be reasonable, demand the impossible!