The idea of care homes for older people being traded like financial instruments might be unpalatable, but it is a reality in today’s adult social care sector. In what has been called the “financialisation” of care, private equity investors have pounced on a £16bn industry, attracted by a steady stream of income in the shape of fees from a growing population of older people.
Some 410,000 older people live in care homes in the UK, according to official figures, receiving everything from specialist dementia care to less complex nursing and bed and board. Those numbers are set to rise with lengthening life expectancy.
While these changing demographics are attractive to profit-hungry private equity firms, fears are mounting that some have racked up such huge debts to buy into the sector, they could trigger a financial crisis.