Cairn Mhor

How Cairn Mhor turned to prepaid cards to fight the financial strain of the Covid-19 pandemic


Care homes


Fife, Scotland



Key benefits

Quick and safe fund distribution to staff

Removal of petty cash and corporate credit cards

Remote distribution of funds to staff

The team at Cairn Mhor Childcare Partnership provide residential care for children and young people, across four houses located within central Fife, Scotland.

Diana Valentim, the Finance Assistant at Cairn Mhor, shared with us that their organisation decided to use prepaid cards and the value she has found in using prepaid cards to distribute company money among staff.

The challenge: the devastating effect of COVID-19

Members of staff at care homes are working under extremely challenging circumstances. Care homes don’t typically operate in big teams, and high turnover of staff is not uncommon in the sector, even without a pandemic keeping people at home.

As a result, homes have been forced to rely on more expensive agency staff during the outbreak to meet the intensity of this demand.

Coronavirus will have a profound impact on the care home sector and its long-term viability, with issues such as staff shortages, lower occupancy rates and the soaring prices of PPE demanding a tighter grip on finances.

For many care homes, regardless of the age of their residents, financial and safety concerns are equally urgent. They’re overwhelmed.

The problem with company credit cards

Before COVID-19, a cook at Cairn Mhor was using a company credit card to buy food for two of the care homes. When this cook stopped working at Cairn Mhor, they looked for a more practical payment option to cover expenses.

The ideal option, even before the coronavirus, was a type of card that didn’t require a name on it and could then be used by anyone on the team.

Cairn Mhor consulted with other care home managers to find the right option. One of them was using supermarket vouchers, which the managers at Cairn Mhor thought was too restrictive. Another local care home suggested they check out what they were using: Soldo prepaid cards.

The challenges of COVID-19

Before the pandemic, this is how they distributed money to the staff:

  1. The finance assistant would withdraw cash from the bank;
  2. Then, she would save it in a standard, vulnerable cash tin;
  3. She would go back to the office to issue it to each house;
  4. And, finally, the managers would drive to the office to sign for the money and then take it back to the houses.
  5. This method stopped being suitable once lockdown began. For starters, the finance and office team at Cairn started working remotely.

On top of that, a lot of places weren’t accepting cash to stem the spread of the virus. The care home needed a card.

The organisation went from trusting one person with a credit card under their name to make big purchases, to having to trust new or temporary staff to use company cash for anything.

The solution: replacing petty cash and credit cards with prepaid cards

Cairn Mhor decided to order four prepaid cards from Soldo, one for each house.

“I found it really easy to get up and running. I did it all within an afternoon. Got it set up, ordered my cards, put money into my account, and it was all really, really easy.”

As the COVID-19 situation worsened, and given that many shops weren’t accepting cash, they started allowing staff to use the cards for any petty cash purchases they needed.

The old method of withdrawing that cash from the bank to then distribute among the houses gave way to remote top-ups.

“Just now from my house, I have the ability to top up the cards to the required amount. I can put a restriction on it if I need to. If not, then they can use it for any purpose and it’s just so easy. It’s been brilliant.”

Making a difference with Soldo

“And that’s when you guys came in really useful…” Diana.

Now, when employees need to purchase anything, they can have the right funds (and no more) in a matter of seconds. They can buy what they need and go back to their job helping residents straight away.

Care homes are providing new starters with a Soldo card so they can share funds with them without feeling like they’re risking company money or overexposing the organisation.

“At the moment, I’ve lifted all restrictions because they’re not getting their normal cash into the house. They’re sometimes having to order things that I would have previously ordered for them online, which is really useful for them to be able to do.”

The freedom that comes with using a contactless card during this crisis is not understated. But controlling that freedom is just as important.

Cairn Mhor uses the Soldo web console to tighten their budgets and keep track of money in real-time, avoiding any surprises.

Exploring the perks of Soldo

There’s a variety of options available with Soldo to help care homes control expenses. Using the Soldo web console, you can:

  • Prevent the cardholder from using the card online or at a cashpoint;
  • Set the balance to a certain amount daily, weekly or monthly;
  • Set up limits to restrict spending per transaction;
  • Choose which types of expenses can be put through the card, with
    dozens of options to choose from;.
  • Automatically lock the card after one transaction – once the card’s been used, it can’t be used again until you unlock it.

With the web console, Diana could enforce any of these rules remotely, while keeping track of spending. She told us she checks it two or three times a week to make sure each house has got enough money.

The results: a swift and safe improvement

“Cards were really, really easy for us to order, and anybody in the house could take it to the supermarket, do the shopping. And we didn’t have to have a card specifically named for every member of staff, which was brilliant.”

Care homes are using prepaid cards to transfer money safely and more effectively.

Setting restrictions and instantly topping up the cards saves time that would otherwise be spent going back and forward with a cash tin.

Diana stopped having to keep track of everything manually. She put an end to unsafe storage methods. And, at the end of the month, expense reporting and reconciliation take substantially less time.

“It has been an absolute godsend for us.”

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