Southern Cross homes left in ‘rack and ruin’

Many Southern Cross homes have been left in a state of "rack and ruin", it has been claimed.

Many Southern Cross homes have been left in a state of “rack and ruin”, it has been claimed.

A source close to one set of  the troubled provider’s landlords said many of the care homes had been neglected and were in need of a “makeover”.

His comments were supported by Paul Saper, director of healthcare consultancy LCS International. He warned that landlords would have to replace fridges, curtains, carpets, hoists, lifts, washing machines, chairs, beds, and safety and medical equipment.

Many will also have to carry out general building maintenance activities in a programme that will cost millions because inadequate resources were given over to upkeep in the Southern Cross portfolio.

Saper has visited many Southern Cross homes on behalf of the company’s landlords and banks to help assess the level of turn-around capital needed. He said Southern Cross had neglected too many of its homes and had axed a swathe of area managers to cut costs, leaving landlords with little option but to reinvest heavily.

“Across the board, when you visited a Southern Cross home, you knew what it would look like – in significant need of a makeover,” said Saper.

“As a result of this, people didn’t want to go into their homes. This meant profits declined further and they then had less money to put into their homes.”

The source said: “There will have to be a lot of work done on these homes because many are in a state of rack and ruin. The landlords are trying to put figures on all of this stuff to give them a final figure. On any home that’s taken over, the landlords will have to do an evaluation just to find out how much reinvestment is needed.

“On staffing, the aim is to run the homes better so the programme is about filling staff vacancies and bringing in staff. Clearly they’ve been looking at staffing and what’s needed to get these homes back to a high standard.”

Earlier this week, Southern Cross announced it would close having failed to agree terms with its landlords who are now set to take back responsibility for their homes in the weeks or months ahead.

Of these, 250 will return to landlords which are themselves operators or have close links to operators, while the others are finalising arrangements.

The larger group includes landlords NHP and Loyds Properties, which between them own more than 300 Southern Cross homes. Separately, Loyds has gone into administration, a process overseen by Grant Thornton.

A Southern Cross spokesman said: “The company invested £70m in its homes last year and the homes comply with the necessary regulators. The future investment programmes will be dependent on the landlords and their elected operators.”

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