Residential care providers on hunt for new executive talent

28th June 2021

By John Wakeford

Talented executives with an eye for customer care are being sought by the boards of larger providers in the fast growing UK residential care sector.

Eyeing opportunities for further consolidation in the hugely fragmented market, the bigger operators are currently recruiting roles right across the C-suite.

Senior managers in industries where customer service expertise and commercial acumen are both key are now being encouraged to consider newly created executive positions in residential care.

Boards are looking to attract talent from both within the industry and also from other customer orientated sectors like hospitality and retail, which have been forced to shed senior posts in recent months, for the vision, ideas and drive they need to upskill the quality of their management and service.

Opportunities cover the entire C-suite, including CEO, COO and CFO positions, as well as general management and commercial roles.

With 5,500 independent providers accounting for 84 per cent of the £16bn market, many running only one or a small number of homes, there is huge potential for consolidation in a sector which has attracted significant private equity investment in recent years.

The PE firms and funds which account for the rest of the market include HC-One with 271 homes, Four Seasons with 203 homes and Care UK with 113 homes. More than £1.8bn has been spent in 64 retirement and nursing home deals according to PitchBook, and the bigger players are looking to further consolidate.

The long term outlook for the residential care sector is healthy, with a massive projected increase in demand. The sector has grown by 4.5 per cent since 2015 and the ageing population will undoubtedly continue to drive increasing demand for care home services.

As life expectancy rises, the 65+ population in England is projected to increase by 34 per cent between 2020 and 2035 from 10.5m to 14.1m people. The Office for National Statistics has predicted a 36 per cent growth in the 85+ population alone in the decade to 2025, from 1.5m to 2m.

But the industry faces huge challenges meeting this increasing demand. In 2019/20 staff turnover rates topped 30 per cent and 7.3 per cent of the roles in adult social care were vacant, around 112,000 vacancies at any one time.

report by Skills for Care published in October 2020 estimated up to 520,000 extra jobs would be needed in the adult social care sector by 2035 – an increase in staffing of 32 per cent.

There is also a looming beds crisis, with thousands of smaller, outdated care homes at risk of closure over the next five years according to research by Knight Frank. An estimated 70 per cent of care home facilities were built prior to 2000 and will need upgrading and refurbishment.

All this amid increasing scrutiny from both regulators such as the Care Quality Commission, which grades and issues reports on care homes, and the media, which turned its spotlight on residential care in the wake of the Covid outbreaks last year.

Over recent months we have seen a significant increase in demand for executive roles in residential care, and have achieved a 94 per cent success rate for national search assignments across the entire C-suite including CEO, COO and CFO positions as well as numerous general management and commercial roles.

I am keen to talk to both residential care providers looking to upskill the quality of their management, and executives who are interested in joining this vitally important and fast growing sector – or finding a new role within it – at such an exciting time. Please contact me for an informal, confidential discussion to find out more.

John Wakeford is a founding director of HW Global Talent Partner with a specific focus on Care and Hospitality. Contact him at [email protected] or +44 (0) 113 243 2004.