Landlords set to take control at care homes

NILALM110127C3 - Ladywood care home Kirk Hallam
NILALM110127C3 - Ladywood care home Kirk Hallam

ELDERLY residents in three Ilkeston care homes faced more uncertainty this week after troubled care home operator Southern Cross announced it was to shut down.

A month into a planned four months of restructuring talks, the firm has announced it is transferring control of its 752 homes nationwide to its landlords after they all agreed to take over on Monday.

An estimated 100 elderly residents and 100 staff at Ladywood, Victoria Park and Cedars and Larches care homes now face an uneasy wait to find out who will be running them.

Ken Holland, whose father Jack, 102, lives at Ladywood Care Home in Kirk Hallam, said he was concerned about how the new owners may run the home.

“My father has got a ground floor bedroom and he can get himself to the lounge and dining room,” he explained.

“But if Ladywood is closed down, he’s unlikely to get that – it would completely ruin his life.

“What would annoy me is if a company takes over and increases the prices – that would be totally unfair.

“The other thing is if Ladywood goes down where can he go? All these people have to be found places and he may end up miles and miles away.”

Southern Cross has said that about 250 of its homes have landlords who are care home providers already, or who have ‘strong links’ to providers. They will be taken back and run by landlords shortly, but the firm could not confirm if any of those homes were in Ilkeston.

Meanwhile an investigation by union GMB has claimed this week that the landlords of 325 Southern Cross care homes, including the three in Ilkeston, are registered in offshore tax havens.

It said Ladywood and Victoria Park care homes are run by Caymans Islands-based Libra Careco, while Cedars and Larches is run by FSHC Holdings in Guernsey.

GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “Southern Cross may be on its last legs but for their 31,000 residents and 43,000 staff this looks like a case of out of the frying pan, into the fire.

“These 80 landlords are a rag-tag bunch, whose number includes overseas interests, tax dodgers and in some cases, ‘identity still unknown’.”

No one could be reached for a comment at Libra Careco or FSHC (Guernsey) Holdings.

But chairman of Southern Cross Christopher Fisher said that the future looked bright for residents.

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

A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “We are closely monitoring the situation with Southern Cross but it is too early to say how yesterday’s developments will affect care homes in Derbyshire.

“As always, the interests of residents remain our priority and we continue to work hard to ensure they receive the continuity and quality of care they expect.”