When Nicola and Marc Rowland were offered an opportunity to lease and run a care home within the locality of their existing domestic care business, they jumped at the opportunity. It was not by chance that the landlord offered them first option, for Ultimate Care’s reputation within Ipswich was excellent. Neither was it a coincidence that they came to Foundation East for a business loan. After all, it was Foundation East that had made them the loan that enabled their business to grow into an established, recognised and celebrated provider of domiciliary care in the first place. Accepting the loan application was a no-brainer for the loans assessment panel and time is proving that their decision was right …
Growing an already successful domiciliary care business into a care home business makes sense, which is why the owner of an existing care home approached the owners of Ultimate Care after the previous leaseholders had been forced to close down. For Marc and Nicola Rowland, the owners of Ultimate Care, it was a golden opportunity. They knew, however, that as well as the lease, they needed to raise the finance to purchase equipment, furnishings and working capital.
“The care home had been empty for 15 months and its reputation was not great. Renaming it and rebranding it inline with Ultimate Care’s values and standards would be vital and we knew we needed capital to do this and to see us through the initial recruitment period. We were coming to the end of our term with a previous loan from Foundation East. The mentoring we had received from them along the way was exceptional, and so we applied, via our Business Loans Manager, Val Jarrett, for a second loan,” explains Marc.
“Marc and Nicola are well known to us. They had been exemplary clients who had created a values-based business model in the care industry that had a proven track record with local care providers and a proven positive reputation within the local community. A good sales line was easily achievable by them. They knew the care industry inside out and had proven themselves to be great business people. I had no problem at all with accepting their application and recommending them to our loans assessment panel,” Val advises.
“Val went above and beyond what a mainstream finance company would have done. Not only did she come away from the loan assessment meeting in which our loan had been discussed with a ‘yes’, she came away with a ‘yes, and’. The ‘and’ was that we could have the first three months of the loan as an interest only loan. This helped us manage our cash flow during the start up period when we’d be recruiting both staff and residents. It was an option that we had not even known was possible,” Marc advises.
“Applying for the loan was straight forward, the whole process, from applying to receiving money in our account took only 4 weeks and Foundation East took care of the administration, adding the repayments to our existing loan, in a way that caused minimum fuss or interference and cost us no time at all.”
Time is precious to everyone, and ‘time saved’, no matter how small a chunk, can literally save the day for small and growing businesses. Marc and Nicola were more than aware of this and diligently planned the launch of their new residential home. With the loan applied for at the end of October and in the bank by the end of November, the renamed, refurbished ‘Park Manor’ opened its doors on 4th January 2016. To begin with only rooms on the ground floor, of which there are 12, were available, Quality Care commission (QCC) approved, of course, whilst further renovation to the upper floor (in which 9 more rooms were being carefully and thoughtfully refurbished) continued. By the 11th of January, 2 rooms were taken; by mid February 8 and in June there was only one room that had not yet become someone’s home.
How had they managed to win so much time?
“We are a care home that offers a better quality care. We do everything within our power to enable our residents to make this their home. Our reputation within the region and the new look and feel of the building made recruitment much easier than we had expected, with former staff delighted to return and highly motivated to deliver the best quality care possible,” Marc explains.
“The rooms filled up more quickly than we had ever imagined, with a good balance of socially funded and privately funded residents. Our reputation within the community led to a contact within the dementia unit of Ipswich Hospital placing a respite patient in our care early on. The hospital and our resident’s family saw such enormous improvements that we are now the first port of call for people with such needs within Ipswich”.
The first floor now complete and Marc and Nicola await a visit from QCC before accepting new residents to their established home. With time now so clearly on their side, Foundation East is confident the new rooms will be filled quickly, and all our staff and volunteers are proud to be part of such a success story.
“The Ultimate Care team has created more than just a new care home in an underserviced area of Suffolk. It has created a much needed, much celebrated, affordable new option for local authority healthcare providers, freeing up hospital beds. It’s created 19 fulltime jobs and safeguarded 3 jobs on the domiciliary side and its ‘integrate, don’t segregate’ care policy is delivering positive impacts on the well-being of residents and the associated peace of mind for their family members. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of Marc and Nicola’s journey,” concludes Val.