Our health & social care team provides practical, expert advice to residential care providers, whether small/ medium sized care providers or care home operators with multi-site portfolios. Our lawyers have a thorough understanding of the care home sector and the challenges faced by providers.
Our expertise includes:
- acquisitions and disposals;
- property acquisition and development including health centre developments and planning applications and appeals;
- employment issues;
- shareholder and partnership agreements;
- shareholder/partner arrivals and departures and partner disputes;
- healthcare regulations and the essential standards of quality and safety;
- Local Authority contracts;
- service user agreements;
- challenging CQC decisions; and
- personal tax and succession planning.
Employing care home staff
Our approach is to focus on best practice advice to enhance manager/supervisory skills and confidence in dealing with the day to day staff issues which inevitably arise. We regularly provide training on all aspects of employment law as well as safeguarding and senior leadership support.
Our relevant experience includes:
- Advising on physical and mental health disabilities both from a staff and client perspective.
- Successfully advising and representing organisations in respect of a claim for constructive dismissal, whistleblowing, age discrimination, unlawful deduction and breach of contract.
- Successfully defending and representing organisations in respect of all types of discrimination
- Advising on TUPE aspects of outsourcing contracts including advising on the movement of staff across UK and Europe, consultation, negotiating and entry and exit provisions.
- Dealing with issues of staff rotas, rest breaks and working time practices which may impact on compliance with National Minimum Wage requirements.
- Advice has been given in relation to on-call requirements and providing alternative accommodation so that pay arrangements can be managed.
- Dealing with allegations of bullying and false accusations from residents.
- The team also recognises that there are particular difficulties with sickness absence and providing cover so advises on various initiatives for retention and reduction of staff absence.
Safeguarding staff and residents
We are familiar with working in conjunction with other stakeholders such as the Local Area Designated Safeguarding Officer and the Police nationally and we understand the reporting requirements in relation to the NCTL and DBS and Charity Commission for serious incidents. Our team has advised on many issues which have attracted press attention relating to allegations and convictions for child protection offences and assisted in the management of reputational risk.
Having advised care homes and charities offering drug and alcohol rehabilitation, our team is familiar with clinical settings and the various statutory frameworks and therapeutic models to provision of care and operating as an intermediary between a clinical care setting and the wider community. We have also worked alongside deputies appointed by the Court of Protection to ensure adequate delivery of care in a residential setting for minors.
Buying, selling and managing care home property
The team has a proven track record acting for clients with significant and varying property requirements, operating under different but strict regulatory regimes. The team has significant experience of dealing with acquisitions of care homes.
We work closely with our corporate and commercial teams, particularly in relation to asset and share purchases when there is a co-ordinated approach drawing together all relevant specialisations.
Our real estate team has a wealth of experience of dealing with all aspects of portfolio management, including lease acquisitions, disposals and renewals, lease management documents including licences for alterations, break options, dilapidations, service charge disputes, breach of covenant, rent arrears recovery and rent reviews. We also regularly advise in relation to freehold ownership issues such as, boundary disputes, easements, restrictive covenants, nuisance and trespass claims. In addition we have a specialist unit which deals with social housing management and residential landlord and tenant disputes.
Our relevant experience includes:
- Advising on a PFI build for a care home for the largest provider of social housing in the Horsham Area.
- Advising on "extra care" options in terms of new build flats and bungalows offered by providers on a shared ownership and outright sale basis for those aged over 55 years and
- Acting on the acquisition of care homes by asset and share purchases including title investigations, contract negotiations and regulatory due diligence checks
- Advising on tenant issues as well as employee accommodation issues
- Advising on all aspects of lease renewal, from the service of a Section 26 request or receipt of a Section 25 Notice, through to final determination by the court or Arbitrator, if necessary. We have recently had some great successes for this client by using the PACT process. We have also managed a large number of lease renewals which have gone to Court, and instructed experts where rent or other terms could not be agreed by negotiation. We work with our clients to understand the strategic importance of each of the properties in their portfolio and work closely with the client to achieve their commercial aims on renewal or vacation.
Construction of care homes
We regularly work alongside architects and surveyors to ensure that the building contract and design obligations provide robust standards for achieving CQC compliance and certification for new care homes. Inevitably disputes arose from some of those developments when the building contractor considered he had finished and therefore demanded certification of practical completion, whereas the employer and the CQC found enough problems to refuse certification and then suggest denial of completion. Our team has experience in running specialist adjudication processes to provide decisions on payment and compliance with specification/defects issues.
Our relevant experience includes:
- Acting for a care group on the acquisition, development and refurbishment of a variety of care homes, all of which were multi million pound new build developments.
- Advising a leading care charity on a four year framework agreement for planned and preventative electrical and mechanical maintenance. That contract was set up with particular sensitivity to the residents in each existing care home, controlling access to site carefully, managing data protection issues, imposing key performance indicators (KPIs) to incentivise the supplier and creating a specific order and pricing system to ensure close cost control.
Buying and selling care home businesses
As well as regularly advising health and social care clients on mergers and acquisitions, governance and corporate structures, the Wright Hassall corporate team has advised on a large number of UK and international transactions, including project managing multi-jurisdictional deals and liaising with professional advisers across a large number of territories. We have a strong track record of being appointed by clients on subsequent deals and broader post transaction advice as they value our straightforward approach, pragmatic and commercial style and competitive pricing structures.
Our relevant experience includes:
- Advised on the proposed sale of large domiciliary care provider delivering over 100,000 hours of care per week.
- Advised on the merger of two LD providers to form a new group with a turnover of over £70M.
- Acted for the last 15 years for a charity specialising in the running and management of care homes which has involved, for example, the purchase of a failing care home in Somerset which was the sole property of a company. Following a full due diligence exercise the company limited by guarantee transferred its assets by way of Transfer of Engagement to our client.
- Acting for a bank in the refinancing for five care homes which has involved all necessary due diligence in relation to all aspects of the property including regulatory issues, business plans and pure property issues.
We regularly provide private client services in-house to health & social care organisations as an added value benefit to residents and their families, including:
- Wills and inheritance tax planning arrangement
- Lasting Power of Attorney
- probate and estate administration
We also provide information sessions in health & social care facilities for residents and their families sharing best practice on what they should be considering as a vulnerable person. We also tailor this information for staff briefing sessions so that health & social care staff are aware of what is available to residents.
Our health & social care lawyers have a thorough understanding of the domiciliary care sector and the challenges faced by providers. So whether you need legal advice on any issues involving domiciliary care, supported living or extra care schemes we can help.
Crisis Management and Resolving Disputes
We recognise that social care providers operate in a challenging environment within a complex and ever-changing regulatory framework. At Wright Hassall we advise, support and guide social care providers in relation to all manner of disputes:
Contract disputes - advising organisations on commercial disputes with third parties such as local authorities.
- Professional negligence – advising organisations who may have received negligent advice from professionals including accountants, insurance brokers, solicitor, tax advisors, architects and surveyors etc.
- Crisis management - advising organisations when dealing with crisis management, including limiting the damage to their reputation during times of crisis.
- Property disputes - advising on landlord and tenant disputes including lease renewal, dilapidation and freehold property disputes such as rights of way.
- Debt and fee recovery - advising on debt and fee recovery disputes with local-authority commissioners.
- Advising organisations on whether they have grounds for bringing a judicial review claim and, if so, preparing the court documents and advising on evidence gathering.
- Obtaining permission from the Court for an application to be made.
- Representation during judicial-review court proceedings.
- Challenging CQC notices of proposal to cancel, vary, suspend or refuse registration;
- Advising organisations how to appeal CQC decisions at the first tier tribunal;
- Supporting organisations with factual accuracy comments and draft inspection reports
- Advising clients in relation to the breaches of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and the Care Act 2014