HBI Deals+Insights / News

When health care is a risky business

It seems like every week, we print a story or two which reminds us that elderly care – whether residential or homecare – can be risky business.

This week, another German nursing home operator is facing bankruptcy. Convivo, faced with a significant shortage of skilled workers and a pandemic induced doubling of sick leave amongst its staff, has gone to court and is trying to ensure the safety of its patients – and the wages of its workers. It follows hot on the heels of German national operator Curara which has similarly filed.

The pandemic, staffing issues, the general cost of living crisis and high energy costs are hitting all across Europe and those groups not pushed into financial difficulties may be finding it harder to sell.

Not so – at least so we are told – for the bulk of the remainder of UK-based Four Seasons portfolio. Four Seasons wrestled with its own financial  demons back in 2019, and appointed administrators. Since last summer, it has been trying to sell and we have been told regularly by those trying to sell it, on an almost monthly basis, that there will be / is huge interest in it. As HBI Deals+Insights readers can read elsewhere, some of those watching on from the sidelines paint a somewhat different picture.

Even where business might otherwise be booming, reputational risks abound. We also write this week about Swedish-based Humana which – in the face of what seems a comparatively small amount of allegations – lost its licence to provide homecare (since reinstated, pending appeal). It remains to be seen what reputational damage it incurs alongside the financial ones it faces – its share price plummeted 57% after the story broke.

And of course one only need look at France for what more serious allegations can do – with Orpea dropping 90% plus of its share value in a year of allegations, and (perhaps quite unfairly) Korian and latterly DomusVi fending off the threat of complaints too.

We’d like to say these cases are few and far between and the majority of operators are silently, competently, going about their business out of the spotlight. But it does appear to us that, over the last 12 months or so, the sector has been grabbing more than its fair share of the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Though we journalists love a well read headline, for the sake of these operators and particularly their patients/residents, we for one would welcome some calmer times ahead.

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