Stephen Hammersley, CEO Pilgrims’ Friend Society

‘Bailed Out and Burned Out’ is the title of Warwick Business School report on the financial impact of COVID-19 on UK care homes for older people and their workforce.

During the pandemic, care homes experienced levels of challenge never seen before in the face of such pressures and it showed that homes operating on principles that echo God’s own heart delivered where it really counts.  The report showed that being motivated by people, and not for profit, made a huge difference for everyone involved.

The report analysed the financial support given by the Government, and recommended how any future support to the sector might be organised. A key point is that the financial support from Government worked – care homes didn’t fold.

But the authors of the report are critical of some private sector operators, particularly the private equity-backed larger groups. Some providers increased dividend payments during the pandemic, with opaque reporting structures making it difficult to track cashflows. Instead of being used to support older people and staff, the allegation is that Government grant support payments  went into the hands of investors.

The report also highlights how staff working in private sector homes were less satisfied with the support they received and the way things were managed than those working in not-for-profit homes like ours.

‘At the heart of the matter is motivation,’ said Stephen Hammersley, CEO of Pilgrims’ Friend Society.  ‘Why do we care for those who are older and vulnerable? Not because we’re interested in making profits for investors, but because the Bible tells us to. James 1:27 tells us ‘… to look after orphans and widows in their distress…’ Why do we prioritise our staff? Because our work is shaped by the belief that humans are made in God’s image and have inherent value – ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him’ (Genesis 1:27).

‘What we need is a care system that is resilient to withstand both the unforeseen challenges of the future and the normal daily pressures that come with working with care.

‘To do so, organisations like ours need to claim a bigger share of the market. At Pilgrims’ Friend Society, we’re actively looking to expand through our Growth and Renewal Programme. We’d love your support in this. One way you can do this is by signing up to our new Prayer News email (  where each fortnight we’ll update you with ways you can be praying for us. We know that God works powerfully through prayer.

Here is Stephen talking to James  on TransWorld Radio today:

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.