The healthcare, social care and education sectors bring specific challenges to a private equity investor. In no other sector do your actions as an investor have such a significant impact on the everyday lives of people. With this responsibility also comes the unique opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of service users, their families and wider society. This becomes immediately clear when you sit round the boardroom table at The Witherslack Group.
Witherslack is a leading provider of specialist education and care for children and young people with behaviour, emotional and social difficulties, communication challenges and complex learning needs. ISIS invested in Witherslack in January 2011 to support the future growth of the business.
In the tighter funding environment commissioners find themselves in post CSR it is more important than ever that providers of high value services such as Witherslack demonstrate real value for money.
How can they do this?
Offering safe and stable school or home placements to young people. As well as being in the long term best interests of the young person this can also be vitally important to the well-being of their families and communities. It can also act to relieve pressure on other agencies or providers that may be struggling to cope. Commissioners are able to see the benefits of Witherslack’s sector leading record on placement stability.
By demonstrating quality outcomes. Many of the young people that come to Witherslack would otherwise end up in a “lifetime of churn”. This could manifest itself in many ways but might include lack of employment, mental ill health, leading isolated lives or possibly even involvement in crime. It is clear that there is a real return on investment from the work that Witherslack does and that benefits society as a whole – but it can be hard to accurately quantify.
The qualitative feedback from individual young people is more immediate and although not as measurable is perhaps more compelling. Feedback such as – “I’m better behaved and healthier. Now I think I’m going to do well and get some GCSEs and a job. Before I was just going to go on the dole.” – is not unusual and helps demonstrate successful outcomes and real value for money to commissioners.
The ISIS philosophy is to back investment that goes to support the quality of education and care provision at Witherslack and similarly across our healthcare and education investees. It was this commitment that enabled us to forge a partnership with Witherslack’s management, who remain, as they always have been, passionate about the care they provide, and wanted a private equity partner that shared that philosophy.
Contact: James Titmuss / April 2012
The ideas and conclusions in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of ISIS Equity Partners. They are for general interest only and should not be taken as investment advice or as an invitation to purchase or sell any investment.