Mike Parsons, Former CEO and Founder  of Barchester Healthcare, Top 10 Admired Leaders of 2023

Mike Parsons
Former CEO and Founder
Barchester Healthcare

Mike Parsons, Former CEO and Founder  of Barchester Healthcare

“Responsibility towards others renders success”

Barchester Healthcare is recognized as the second-largest conglomerate of care homes in the country. Mike Parsons is the founder. With a network of more than 250 care homes and hospitals and employing 17,000 dedicated professionals, the organization diligently cares for over 11,000 residents. Throughout its existence, Barchester has consistently maintained its reputation as a leading care provider, remarkably unburdened by financial obligations that have plagued numerous other providers in the industry.

Prior to founding Barchester, Mike had a very successful career in advertising, working on many of the famous advertising campaigns for Butlins, Esso, and Saab. Later, after struggling to find suitable care for his mother's two great-aunts, he decided to set up a care home company, and Barchester was born. He found the location he had been searching for in the Cotswolds, atop the hill: a charming, historic 17th-century farm in disrepair overlooking the River Severn. He, along with his architect friend, convinced the Conservation Officer to use the old building for restaurants and day space while creating modern guestrooms in the new part.

Moreton Hill Farm opened in 1992 to huge acclaim. This endeavor proved fruitful, and after two decades, they were proud owners of 150 exquisite residences.

To help others better understand what motivated him, he explains that his time spent living in the U.S. presented him with an opportunity to meet the proprietor and doctor of a Care facility for the visually impaired. The home's location on Snow Drive, New Mexico, made it convenient to both the ski slopes and the rocky mountain views. On one occasion, Mike saw a group of blind people relaxing on the sundeck, and he expressed sadness that not everyone could see the beauty in the scene. But his friend reminded him that these individuals simply had a unique point of view. Mike learned from this to always look at the bigger picture. He was motivated to incorporate this philosophy into the Company after learning about the holistic approach to living that he wanted to instill in the culture of Barchester. In regard to this, he also explains that during his time at university, he obtained a Master's degree in Business Administration from the London Business School. However, he believes that a holistic approach to management, leadership, and entrepreneurship cannot be solely taught in a classroom setting.

Mike's capacity to put together a group of talented people who adhere to the same values and collaborate in decision-making was the foundation of Barchester's success. He emphasizes the importance of personally connecting with each member of the organization to facilitate immediate communication, feedback, and alignment with the company's overall objectives. Additionally, he believes in pursuing personal passions, setting ambitious goals, embracing challenges, and maintaining a growth-focused mindset. Recognizing and celebrating achievements, whether through social gatherings or informal conversations, is also seen as essential for fostering teamwork and creating a supportive atmosphere.

With reference to the above, Mike also outlines the rationale for maintaining his team's unity. In 2004, they purchased Westminster Healthcare for £525 million, which was a larger company than theirs with over 80 establishments at that time. Prior to the acquisition, he did his research and hired two senior managers, one of whom had held a senior position in other companies, including Westminster. This provided Mike with a deep understanding of their operations. This knowledge allowed them to confidently merge the two companies and integrate them very quickly to become the company of choice. Numerous awards and accolades followed, including becoming the first care company to be listed as a Top Employer in The Times Awards.

In 2013, Mike decided to retire as the CEO of Barchester after serving for 20 years. Dr. Pete Calverley's team, which took over, has successfully grown the group while maintaining its distinctive atmosphere. This growth has been achieved through a combination of acquiring and constructing new properties, as well as selling underperforming homes and acquiring or building exceptional ones.

Mike, now a non-executive director at Barchester, discusses the difficulties faced by the social care sector. He notes that there is no consensus on how to solve the issues in this field and that elderly people with inadequate social care options are overburdening the NHS. Mike suggests that if the government invested in care homes, it would undoubtedly ease the pressure on hospitals and improve the living conditions for these individuals.

The government’s strategy for the sector has yet to be realized or even adopted with any degree of seriousness. Mike maintains that this is purely due to the fact that the cost to implement the strategy in its entirety is unaffordable without changing taxation, which would not be popular amongst the majority in society.

Mike is aware of the comprehensive digitization strategy for the sector's business, which calls for all care homes registered with CQC to adopt a digital care planning system by Spring 2024. This is ambitious, and whilst some funding has been allocated to Local authorities and Intergated Care Boards to award to companies to support this, Mike believes that the reality will be that many will choose not to embark on a new system due to the challenges it will bring in relation to staff training and change management. He believes, however, that this exciting endeavor will significantly enhance people's lives by giving staff the time to care as opposed to writing notes.

Despite the difficulties, the industry offers a lot of potential. The demand for care beds has never been greater and is set to increase further in the coming years.

The sector is an exciting place to operate, and digital processes will greatly contribute to its improvement, says Mike. Ultimately, the future of social care looks positive, and quality providers will continue to thrive and benefit from the ever-increasing demands of the aging society in which we live.


Barchester Healthcare


Mike Parsons
Former CEO and Founder
Barchester Healthcare


We believe every one of the individuals we support deserves dignity, choice and independence. For us, recognising individuality means listening to what people tell us and ensuring every day is thoroughly enjoyable. Our approach includes jointly written care plans designed to help us learn about personal likes and dislikes as well as helping to set care and rehabilitative goals encouraging independence. We help the people we support keep up community links and welcome those visits from family and friends that can be so important.

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