OLD: Caring Times Christmas Lunch 2012

Further details of this annual event at the Dorchester Hotel, London – this year on 12 December – will follow in due course.

Below is a report from the February 2012 edition of Caring Times on last year’s Christmas lunch event:

Anyone looking for reasons to be optimistic about the coming year may take some comfort from a remark made by Investec’s head of healthcare Gary Clarence at a pre-Christmas where he gave his view that “2012 won’t be any worse than 2011”.

Organised by Caring Times and sponsored by Santander Corporate Banking the networking lunch was held at London’s Dorchester Hotel in mid-December. Mr Clarence told those attending that the care sector’s image had unquestionably been tarnished in the minds of City fund managers.

“They tend to be generalists and very few of them were around in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when there were many more publicly listed care providers,” said Mr Clarence. “The unmitigated disaster of Southern Cross and the Castlebeck scandal have made the fund managers’ view of the sector pretty bleak. On the positive side, one of the benefits of the institutional market is that they have very short-term memories Also, the demand for social care is absolutely still there so I am confident the sector will find its way through these difficult times.

“The institutions back management teams and they consult between themselves so providers have to make very convincing cases to attract investment in this climate.”

Mr Clarence said he believed care providers needed to become increasingly more specialist in the services they offer. “There has been too much of a ‘one size fits all’ approach with care homes,” he said.

“Some have re-badged themselves as ‘specialist dementia units’ but have done little more than repaint the corridors with brighter colours and changed their signage. I think we will see the first green shoots of recovery in the niche markets of specialist provision.

“Private equity is looking to the private pay market and it is the case that institutional investors often take their lead from what private equity is doing.”

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