IT IS a modern Christmas pantomime. A Guernsey-based millionaire. A private-equity house. And a business that cares for people in the final years of their lives. Four Seasons, one of Britain’s largest care-home firms, is in financial trouble, a few years after being acquired by Terra Firma, a company founded by Guy Hands. Lately Four Seasons has piled on debt, which it is struggling to repay. The firm’s difficulties worry many. “Debt-fuelled companies are too risky to be left in charge of frail, elderly people’s lives,” said Ros Altmann, a former pensions minister.
The tale of Four Seasons hints at wider problems with care homes, which look after half a million elderly folk. In the past decade profitability in the industry has plunged. That has limited investment in the care homes of tomorrow—which are sorely needed, since the population is ageing. Since 2015 the number of beds has in fact fallen slightly, according to a report from LaingBuisson, a consultancy. That puts…Continue reading