Fears for Rotherham elderly in care home crisis

HUNDREDS of elderly residents in Rotherham face an anxious wait after the UK’s biggest care home company said that it would have to reduce its rent bill amid financial troubles.

The announcement means that Southern Cross, which runs six homes in Rotherham area, will pay nearly a third less to its landlords over the next four months.

The firm refused to discuss the position of its homes in Rotherham but there are concerns that if the move fails residents could be left high and dry with the threat of closures looming.

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Rotherham Borough Council has been monitoring the situation for months and is putting a plan of action in place to help residents.

But a care providers’ body said that the business could be restructured and there was no need for mass closures.

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The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, covering local authorities nationally, said that it would work with the firm, landlords and others to try to build a sustainable, viable business from this for the future.

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The Commons’ Health Select Committee said that the government needed to make sure there was no interruption in care for Southern Cross residents, but said that it should not consider a bail-out of the company.

Darlington-based Southern Cross recently reported half-year losses of £311 million.

The company, which operates 750 homes, warned then that it was in a “critical financial condition.”

There has been mounting concern over the situation among the elderly residents, their carers and relatives.

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Southern Cross said on Tuesday that it would defer 30 per cent of its rent for four months while it tried to resolve its financial difficulties.

It also reiterated its belief that a longer-term solution to its troubles would be forthcoming.

The firm said that it was confident “a critical mass of landlords” would support the move. But there has been no official agreement.

The rent deferral runs from June 1 to September 30. Southern Cross said that it would issue an update in July.

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Company chairman Christopher Fisher said: “We believe that all of the key stakeholders in Southern Cross want this restructuring to succeed.

“We are in dialogue with the Department of Health, our lenders and our landlords and they continue to support the process.

“The objective will be to emerge with a stable and sustainable business model for the continuing care of our residents.”

Southern Cross said that the move was designed to create a “summer platform” during which the company and its key stakeholders could agree an appropriate restructuring of the firm’s affairs.

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The company said that it remained confident landlords and other key stakeholders including its lenders, the Department of Health and local authorities were supportive.

Southern Cross homes in Rotherham are:

  • The Abbeys Care Centre, High Street, Rawmarsh.
  • Alexandra Nursing and Residential Home, Doncaster Road, Thrybergh.
  • Ladyfield Nursing and Residential Home, Peckmill View, Kiveton Park.
  • Laureate Court Care Centre, Wellgate.
  • Silverwood Care Centre, Flanderwell Lane, Sunnyside.
  • Swallownest Care Home, Chesterfield Road, Swallownest.
  • Swallow Wood Care Home, Wath Road, Mexborough.