Care pledge as home firm folds

Elwick Grange Care Home
Elwick Grange Care Home

A CARE home chain has collapsed – leaving thousands of residents with an uncertain future.

Southern Cross – which runs homes and cares for more than 250 residents in Hartlepool, Billingham, and east Durham – is set to shut down after landlords owning all 752 of its care homes across the country said they wanted to leave the group.

That is believed to include the 60-bed Elwick Grange Care Home (pictured), in Elwick Road, Hartlepool, and Field View Care Home, in Hesleden Road, Blackhall, which has a capacity for 36 beds.

Southern Cross also runs the 43-bed Jack Dormand Care Home, in Fourth Street, Horden, and Allington House and Hadrian Park, both in Billingham’s Marsh House Avenue, which have a combined 107 residents.

A spokesman for the firm said it is envisaged the existing group will cease to be an operator of homes but that the landlords were still committed to providing continuity of care to its 31,000 residents.

Council chiefs say they are working with the group to ensure a “continuity of care” until another provider can be found.

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “We acknowledge that speculation over the operation of Southern Cross care homes is unsettling for residents and their relatives.

“But the council has been assured that residents in Elwick Grange will continue to receive the appropriate care and support from Southern Cross until a new provider takes over the running of the home. Officers are working closely with senior management from Southern Cross.”

Rachael Shimmin, corporate director for adults, wellbeing and health at Durham County Council, said: “The announcements by Southern Cross help make the future clearer.

“It is reassuring that the company’s public statement mentions a commitment to continuity of care for residents from both itself and its landlords.

“But it’s important that we also assure all our residents that their wellbeing is our primary concern.

“We will be working to ensure that wherever possible, people who choose to do so can stay in their existing residential care.”

The Darlington-based group announced the news after previously admitting plans to axe 3,000 jobs at its UK homes, which looks after 31,000 residents, due to cuts in fees paid by local authorities and rising rent bills.

Southern Cross chairman Christopher Fisher said: “About 250 of the homes will begin to be transferred to other operators. The owners of the rest of the homes may end up using the existing Southern Cross back-office staff and some of its management.”

Southern Cross, its landlords and creditors are a month into a four-month restructuring period, which was agreed in crisis talks in June.

A spokesman for Stockton Borough Council, which covers Billingham and Wolviston, said: “Stockton is working with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and Southern Cross to achieve a smooth transition to the new management for the care homes under their umbrella.

“A number of landlords are involved but we have been assured that no care homes will be closed nationally while these negotiations continue. We have had assurances form Southern Cross that the care homes in Stockton are considered to be sustainable regardless of which company operates them in future.

“ADASS will be discussing this regionally today.”