COVID recovery could take three years, care operators warn

Around half of care home operators believe it will take up to three years for the sector to make a COVID recovery, according to a survey by business sales agent Christie & Co.

One in three also reveal they plan to sell their business or some assets in 2021.

In its Business Outlook 2021 report, care homes said 2020 had been a year of financial strain due to a combination of top line pressure on revenue coupled with an increase in operational costs. Occupancy levels dropped to circa 80 per cent on average during the first wave of COVID-19, the report suggests; during the year, the care sector accounted for the highest percentage of distressed asset instructions out of seven sectors, including hotels and pubs.

Another strain on operators has been COVID-19 insurance, with increased rates and premiums and restricted cover also including other communicable diseases such as Norovirus and the flu.

However, looking forward, factors such as demographic demand, relative shortage of available stock, investment diversification and the needs-driven nature of the care sector are all “reflected in the strong level of development activity” in care, suggests Hodges, adding that almost three in ten business contacts said they planned to buy during 2021.

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