Doubts over care home’s future

THE LANDLORDS of a Kilburn care home have refused to confirm whether they have found new operators after the national firm running it collapsed into financial crisis.

Southern Cross, which operated 750 homes housing 31,000 elderly and vulnerable residents, collapsed with £250m rent arrears and was ordered to return control of its homes to their landlords.

Kilburn Care Centre, which has 49 residents, was one of 54 care homes owned by Loyd for whom no new operator had been identified by Southern Cross.

But this week Derbyshire County Council confirmed that the home would be taken over by care home operators Four Seasons, days after the company agreed a provisional deal to take over an extra 54 homes.

Ian Bowden, speaking for Bruchmen - the firm which took over ownership of the home after Loyd went into administration - said the company had no comment.

Southern Cross released a list of over 30 prospective operators a month later than planned but there are 64 homes currently without an operator.

Justin Bowden of the GMB said: “Local councils and the Care Quality Commission have a duty to assess the fitness of these operators to run these care homes properly. Operators must have the financial strength to take over these homes to provide decent standards of care to residents without a repeat of the financial difficulties Southern Cross encountered.

“Above all councils who pay the majority of the bills and the operators must work to ensure full transparency in all aspects of the business plans. The collapse of Southern Cross in the murky mire of invisible landlords in offshore tax havens and inflated rents has been a sobering lesson of what happens when the private sector is given free rein.”

Bankwood Nursing Home, in Duffield, which has 40 residents, was returned to Libra Careco Offshore Topco Ltd (NHP), based in the Cayman Islands and currently owns nearly 300 care homes, with more than 11,500 beds, throughout the UK. NHP Director Jeremy Jensen said: “NHP is working closely with leading care company Court Cavendish to establish the new operating company. In the meantime the homes owned by NHP continue to be managed and operated by Southern Cross.”

Earlier this year Southern Cross spiralled into crisis after receiving a rent bill of almost £250m and reporting halfyear losses of £311m. Derbyshire County Council, which uses 16 of Southern Cross’s residential homes across Derbyshire – with 350 people living in them - say they have not been formally notified of any transfer dates.