Care home group to break up

ELDERLY and vulnerable residents at two North Somerset care homes face uncertainty after it was announced the operator of the facilities will be shut down.

Southern Cross, which runs Laurel Court in Nailsea, and Haven Lodge in Portishead, has been trying to find a solution to its financial difficulties, which were revealed in March when the company announced it could not pay rent to its landlords that own all of its 752 UK care homes.

During crisis talks between Southern Cross, its landlords and creditors in June, it was decided the UK’s biggest care home operator would undergo a four-month restructuring programme.

Just one month in and it has been announced that all landlords have indicated they want to leave the group, which will see the homes passed into their hands.

The landlords of about 250 homes are already operators or have strong links to existing service providers and this will allow a quick transition to the landlords and potential new operators. The landlords for the remaining homes are still finalising their plans with Southern Cross.

A statement released on Monday said that following the restructuring of Southern Cross it was likely the group will ‘cease to be an operator of homes’. It was also emphasised that not all details of the restructuring had been confirmed and could be changed.

Southern Cross also said that during the transition to new operators, which will see all home-based staff transferred on their current terms, continuity of care for its 31,000 residents will be maintained.

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On Monday, trading in Southern Cross shares was also suspended.

Laurel Court in Brockway, Nailsea, has 62 rooms and provides residential and nursing care. Haven Lodge in Harbour Road, Portishead, is an 81-bed care home.

Southern Cross chairman Christopher Fisher said: “The process of change on which we are now embarking involves considerable effort on the part of our management and staff.

“We anticipate that the period of uncertainty which we have been experiencing will now draw to a close.”

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