HBI Deals+Insights / News

Elderly care at the crossroads

What has the Covid crisis taught us about elderly care and its prospects as an industry?

We’ve recently updated our HBI Intelligence data for EMEA for nursing homes showing that Covid will have a 2-5% hit on the for-profit market size depending on the country across Europe, and we recently held an HBI 365 seminar on the subject. Click here to read a full write up.

We can now say that the Covid recession will be V-shaped. Homes saw large drops in many countries as Covid pushed up death rates by about 50%. But occupancy is already coming back in most sectors apart perhaps from the luxury private pay market. Nonetheless long-term reputational damage has been inflected on nursing homes. Politicians who have cocked up are keen to pass the buck to the operators for high death rates.

State spending on healthcare is set to grow. But our panel reckons that little will drip through to care and less to the for-profit sector. Finland, where for-profit faces a fight for its live, shows the danger. The social democrats want to end outsourcing and switch everything to the public sector which will be less accountable and deliver poorer standards at higher costs.

But do not be dismayed. Residents are increasingly given choice and will increasingly opt for quality. That usually means the for-profit sector.

As for digital, it will cut prices and improve quality. But that will come from workflow software and data analytics, not from tangible things that politicians want to see like robot dogs and apps to allow relatives to community with residents.

In all this there is a huge frustration that politicians do not listen to operators but to the nursing unions who want to push up nurse ratios and make all nurses graduates with nursing degrees. So costs will be ladled on top in a way which will not help residents. The only long-term answer here is professional lobbying with nursing homes teaming up with groups advocating for the elderly and their families to push for better quality.

But there are strong and viable businesses. Some homecare businesses are doubling their sales year on year. And the opportunity in nursing homes and homecare in emerging markets is enormous for those brave enough to leap.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Max Hotopf or call 0207 183 3779.