How the genteel retiree world of centenarians was shattered by the ruthless modern model of social care capitalism

Mary Fielding Home, Highgate Pic credit: Mary Feilding Guild

This spring a group of very elderly, sharp minded and bright people will be evicted from a care home where they hoped they would end their lives by a ruthless capitalist who epitomises the new privatised world of social care providers.

The home is unusual in many respects. It caters for bright academics and authors and is a living community of a university of the third age – the oldest is 104 and still going strong. It also occupies a site on the borders of Highgate and Hampstead in London with a book value of £3.8m -a tempting find for any developer.

The group have been placed in this position by the failure of the unique trust, the Mary Feilding Guild, a charity set up in 1962 but dating back to 1882, to make ends meet. The combination of Covid 19, the closure of one of its properties on the site, not being in a position to take new residents, and the need for major modernisation all contributed. The value of the charity’s investments fell from £1.8m to £824,142 in one year.

So the trustees decided to sell it as a ” going concern ” with the aim of finding someone who would keep the residents there and have the funds to improve and modernise the home. Enter Mr Mitesh Kumar Dhanak or Mr Mitesh Girharlal Dhanak as he now prefers to be called. He offered to buy it as a going concern.

Mitesh Dhanak Pic credit: Precious Homes

Within five days of owning it for as yet undisclosed sum he decided to evict everyone by the end of May, declare the staff redundant, demolish the entire home and put a planning application for a new home to Haringey Council.

Mr Dhanak, 63 next month, is not a trained social care or health specialist. He is an accountant with a degree from Sheffield University. He set up his first business Precious Homes in 1994.

His views on the sector were outlined at a Care Conversation webinar on 14 October last year: ” “In terms of the KPIs ( Key Performance Indicators )that funds would look at, it’s property backed, it’s resilient cashflow, it’s government backed – it ticks all the right boxes.” He added later: “Unfortunately, the British press loves the horror stories. It’s about lobbying the government and making sure that our voice is heard and our contribution is recognised. It’s incumbent on all of us to try to do that.”

Now Mr Dhanak has created a complex group of interlocking companies – holding according to Companies House – 27 appointments. All of them are virtually one man bands – himself and a secretary and nobody else – making it difficult to follow his story.

They embrace a small number of care homes for adult care plus the elderly with Alzheimer’s Disease and a property company with investments from Neasden in North London to Barnsley and St Albans. He also got into an enormous tussle with Revenue and Customs when he moved some homes tax free into his pension based in Guernsey- but after a bitter battle he proved the tax people had made an error in law and he won.

The services he provides are rated Good by the Care Quality Commission and he has ploughed money from bank loans into providing a good standard. He also is a trustee of the Cheltenham Playhouse.

The centre of his operations are Precious Homes at Magic House close to Palmers Green. Each each company follows a similar pattern. They are £100 off the shelf companies and within days of him either setting them up or taking over from another operator their assets are mortgaged to the banks – his favourite ones being Coutts and Clydesdale Bank.

His latest £100 company which took over the Mary Feilding Guild home ,Highgate Care is a good example. He has already mortgaged the site to one of his own companies Precious Homes. But this time he has decided to go to a tax haven to get a second mortgage from the Waymade Capital, a Jersey based company run by brothers Vijay and Bhikhu Patel.

The company also has interests in health care, pharmaceuticals, and property and the brothers, both Kenya Asians, originally made their money by setting up a chain of pharmacies which they sold on to Boots. Vijay was awarded an OBE in 2019 under very controversial circumstances. An investigation by the Times revealed he had rebranded generic drugs and overcharged the NHS. This was not picked up by the committee awarding him the honour.

It wrote “Atnahs, a company he co-founded, acquired the rights to old medicines and increased prices by up to 2,500 per cent, costing the NHS at least £80 million. A packet of antidepressants rose from £5.71 to £154 and an insomnia drug soared from £12.10 to £138.” The company now has a financial interest in the Highgate home.

No answers to questions on finance or the price he paid

Mr Dhanak declined to answer through his communications agency any questions about the financing of his ventures or the price he paid for the property.

He did provide an explanation for his change of mind. “The team held meetings within days of completion as there was no desire to mislead residents or staff once a decision was made. Within five days, nearly 40% of the residents have already found potential new homes and we are confident that this trend will continue with the support of the Highgate House team.”

“Since the sale was agreed, the new owner in consultation with professional advisors reviewed the existing model and considered a number of options, including operating the home in its current format and concluded that regrettably it would not be possible to continue to provide care in the same way.  The home has been financially unsustainable for a significant period of time and the Mary Feilding Guild trustees would be aware that a new owner would have to make significant changes.”

owner intends to demolish property, says trust

The trust have also issued a statement: “We now understand that the new owner intends to demolish the existing property and build a completely new home on the site. Four days after completing the sale the purchaser announced a three-month notice period to the staff and residents after which the home will remain empty.

“However, it will take at least seven months to produce a detailed design, obtain planning permission, and commence construction. During this time the home could have been kept open for existing residents, and staff, rather than force them to move, and making staff redundant. The elderly residents will now be forced to seek alternative accommodation during the COVID restrictions, therefore severely limiting their choice.

Please don’t evict them by the end of May

” We are appealing to the new owner to reconsider this wholly unnecessary decision to shut the home immediately. We believe that it is not unreasonable to delay the closure procedure, to one month, before a start on site is possible. This would allow residents and staff reasonable time to consider their options, and by this time the pandemic should have eased.”

The lessons from this saga are two fold. The trust’s lawyers appears to me to have been very naive in not demanding guarantees for their residents in writing. And Mr Dhanak’s business strategy depends of an ever rising property market and ever bigger sums of money being available to local authorities for social care. If there is a major hiccup in either or both of these – the banks are going to demand their money back pretty sharpish and lot of vulnerable people are going to be evicted.

In the meantime Mr Dhanak can retire to his beautiful home in Hampstead Garden Suburb purchased for £2.5 million with a Clydesdale Bank mortgage, according to the land registry,. Here’s a nice picture of it.

13 thoughts on “How the genteel retiree world of centenarians was shattered by the ruthless modern model of social care capitalism

  1. I quite agree with everything you write, David. Its immoral and disgusting. Some of these residents are over 100, it is their home. It is shameful. I am afraid it is a sad reflection of the dreadful uncaring and cruel world we now live in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, sadly we are seeing many business people been driven by one thing how to accumulate money and wealth, and avoid taxes. Some will say if they are enterprising then they deserve it, but they never mention that some people become victims of one mans success story. It seems to me that the country has developed a new business class, Vulture Capitalists, most say Venture capitalists I consider Vulture is a more appropriate word, they see a business in trouble purchase it and then just asset strip it while a cash injection may have seen it through a difficult time. The Vulture after the asset stripping deposits is profits outside of the UK, so only beneficiary is themselves.
      Of course it is perfectly legal to make a fast buck, but for me to classify yourself as a business is a abuse of the word business as at the end their is just nothing, the business, the people who worked as well as lived their are gone , but an individual becomes more wealthy while everyone else becomes poorer in one way or another,
      There is only one thing I would say having been an observer of life, you find the people who make money their sole purpose in life never end up happy and often die early pursuing their love of money.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely disgusting. The residents, bless them, are paying for their care. What a narcissistic person. Shame on him.

    Like

  3. This man man has no.morals, I don’t know how he sleeps at night. They say what goes around comes around, hopefully one day he will get his comupance. He is nothing more than a glorified con man who happens to have made money by Ill gotten ganes. Shame on him for his heartless attitude. To these frail elderly people.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you David for your unremitting work on weeding out these scumbags. Wealth before health is becoming the norm, sadly. These residents deserve to live in peace and security, not uprooted at this stage in their lives. Until this Govt puts rules in place for all money earned/acquired in this country is paid for in taxes in this country, then these evil ‘entrepreneurs’ will continue to win.

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  5. This is day light Robbery !! He needs to be held accountable for these poor people who are going to loose their rights what for ..Greed selfish greed !
    His bank loan sharks All the way to the bank of WHO !!?!?!?!
    I would t trust anyone let alone a lone shark who always has a smile !!! Deceiving LAMB IN SHEEPS CLOTHING !
    I am seeing them a lot of them crazing in empty fields ?!!!!

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  6. Truly outrageous. This home offered respectful care in non-institutional surroundings. When my mum applied to go there she was told that if she didn’t have sufficient funds, support might be available. It was a lovely mix of residents and my mum lived there very happily until she died.

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