10/11/2023 | Care

Q&A: One year as a care home owner

In this Q&A blog post, Simon Harvey caught up with Dr Shashi Balain, a year on from his first care home purchase.


In early 2022, husband-and-wife team, Drs Shashi and Munisha Balain, relocated from the South East to Devon to pursue their dreams of owning their own healthcare business. In July of the same year, with support from both Christie & Co and Christie Finance, they purchased Summercourt Residential Home and Pottles Court Residential Home - a fantastic pair of homes located just 13 miles apart.

One year on, Simon Harvey, Senior Director – Care at Christie & Co, spoke with Shashi about how they’re getting on…

Can you tell us a bit about your business background?

We have investments in the healthcare space in India - our family runs hospitals and hospital support services in technical and financial partnerships with Italian companies. Dr Munisha is a Consultant Paediatrician and brings in the medical expertise. With my background as a PhD in Psychology and an MBA, I help with the management of the business.

What made you want to enter the care sector?

We analysed the care sector market in the UK and understood the opportunities and challenges the sector faces, including huge workforce issues. But, given our expertise in training nurses and care workers within our own training centres in India, we were confident that we could overcome these issues in a reasonably short period to begin with. We are now in the process of setting up training centres in the UK to make the business more sustainable and locally self-sufficient.

What made you want to own a care business?

We are very passionate about providing quality care services at low costs. Care businesses in the UK provide ample opportunities to innovate the running of homes with out-of-box solutions - this is an exciting challenge that we love to have.

How have you found your first year of ownership?

It has been exciting, to say the least! There have been challenges on the way, but we are looking to develop internal resilience and leadership in the homes to overcome these challenges.

What are the key changes you have implemented so far?

We have implemented electronic care records and completely moved both homes to paperless care notes. This has been a huge change for both the care workers and the leadership teams in the homes. We are much better equipped to substantiate our PIR with good care notes that we need to submit to CQC every year. We have also brought in a new electronic HR management system that has considerably lessened the burden of the administration. The overarching philosophy has been to lead from the front and make the staff work without fear of making mistakes, and firmly establish the ethos of psychological safety.

What are you most looking forward to in the coming years? Do you have any other plans for the home?

We now have a good understanding of various levers of high performance in the care sector. Now we plan to use the same basic principles of high care standards and the use of technology to provide care-at-home services. The company has already added domiciliary care to its registration with CQC and we are looking forward to expanding our footprint in this sector in the coming year.

What has been your biggest challenge so far? Is there anything you have learned or discovered that you weren’t expecting?

The biggest challenge has been to hire senior leadership that is equally committed to growth and working with the ethos of people-centred business decisions - be that staff who are providing the care or the residents and clients whom these staff are serving. There is too much fatigue in the leadership and the work needs to be replanned and employees re-energised to make this happen.

Do you have any tips for those looking to enter the sector and buy their first care home?

It is too early for us to really say what others should do who are buying their first home to run it successfully, but before one invests in the sector it is a good idea to ensure that they have a plan for resolving the staffing issues even before they invest. With all our expertise and ability to hire internationally, we still ended up paying a huge amount for agency staffing which I wish we could have avoided!

You sourced funding through Christie Finance to help you make the purchase. Do you have any tips for someone wishing to do the same?

Christie Finance, especially Jimmy, was a great source of valuable advice on how to get the best possible funding in a very financially constrained environment. Will recommend them to anyone looking to buy for the first time. They do hold your hand very firmly and come true on their commitment.

If you’re considering buying your first care home and would like to discuss your options, contact Simon Harvey: simon.harvey@christie.com / 07764 241 310