Goodbye Southern Cross, Hello Open Public Services

So Southern Cross – the largest private care home provider in the UK will be closed.

What of the 31,000 residents who live in their properties? Well, the government has given us its assurance that they will be ok so that’s alright then.

Or not.

Goodbye, Hello

m kasahara @ flickr

On the day that the Open Public Services White Paper was published  (which can be found here – pdf) – which couched in the comfort of positive words like ‘choice’ , we would do well to heed the warnings of the way in which social care was sold off in chunks, from public to private and reflect on whether it is better to allow care homes to ‘fail’ in order to prove that the strongest will rise to the ‘top’.

The problem is that Southern Cross WAS the strongest. It did rise. It also speculated on property and ownership transferred away from the core business base of providing care and homes for those who needed both.

But on a more pressing issue, what will happen to those who live in Southern Cross homes and work for Southern Cross homes.

As the Independent says

Analysis by the GMB union revealed the names of 80 landlords who own 615 of the homes, many of which are subsidiaries of larger companies registered overseas. This makes it much harder to obtain financial information about the companies as rules governing accountability and transparency, especially in “tax havens” such as Jersey, Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands are significantly more lax.

In addition, the GMB was unable to trace more than 120 landlords, which mean thousands of people are living in care homes where the identities of the owners and directors are unknown.

In the absence of full company accounts and other relevant information, such as the names of directors, it is “nigh on impossible” to assess whether they are suitable to run care homes funded in large part by public money, according to Andrew Craven, GMB statistician and researcher

At least the ‘Department of Health’ spokesman says

“Whatever the outcome, no one will find themselves homeless or without care. We will not let that happen. Today’s announcement does not change the position of residents. The Care Quality Commission will continue to monitor the services provided… We have been in constant contact over the course of discussions and remain ready to talk to all parties.”

That’s reassuring. Or not. Would that spokesman or anyone in the Department of Health want that level of uncertainty lying over their head or the heads of one of their parents? The residents of the homes will not know who their landlords are or whether they are fit to run care homes at all. Of course no-one will find themselves homeless – it will be the local authorities, the elected local authorities who will have to spend and fret themselves out of this one – nothing to do with the Department of Health’s reassurances – unless the Department of Health is going to compensate those local authorities for the time and cost they spend to ensure the welfare of residents of Southern Cross homes that may close.

As for the CQC, I think we have established that it is unfit for purpose and unable to regulate a care industry that has grown too large and too costly to be regulated efficiently. How about an idea? The Department of Health invests very heavily directly in the CQC so that they can provide at least twice-yearly, unannounced inspections together with a host of lay visitors attached to every single residential and nursing home?

No, the Department of Health is weedling out of this crisis as it will weedle out of the cost of ensuring that the residents of Southern Cross Care Homes are not made homeless.

Now, I want to link some of these issues to the Public Service White Paper that was published yesterday and particularly one or two sentences I picked out.

Firstly

In the context of rolling out more extensive ‘choice’ in other areas of government, the paper says

‘We will ensure that individual service providers are licensed or registered by the relevant regulator for each sector (e.g. the Care Quality Commission) so that those choosing services can known that providers are reliable, without stifling cost”

Does that not lead to a tiny little shiver down ones spine? The CQC is being held up as a reason to trust in this extension of ‘choice’.  Has noone mentioned the cost of good quality regulation, either.  It’s worth reading this post at The Small Places for more consideration of the way the CQC regulates social care services. The CQC has failed to regulate and the care sector is failing to deliver on personalisation so far. The care sector has had time to learn as well. We had direct payments for many years and before that the ILF (Independent Living Fund) which allowed payments to be made directly to adults with disabilities to choose care. The system should be sophisticated enough by now to deliver good quality, equitable services but it has taken many years even to reach this point. There’s a long long way to go.

Secondly

“The wider public sector has much to learn from local authority successes in commissioning, for example, in adult social care”.

See, look at us, government, we’re a success! Success. This is the end-result of success. Adult care commissioning is not a success. It has not extended choice unless of course (and I think I’ve found the key) success is based on the principle of privatisation and provision of contracts to the those who deliver at the lowest cost regardless of quality. That is the adult social care ‘success’ that the government is lauding in the Open Public Services White Paper.

We are dazzled by words such as ‘choice’ and ‘open government’  but they have no meaning outside ‘lowest cost’ and ‘discharge of responsibility’.

Think of Southern Cross. Think of Adult Social Care. It’s coming to our homes, our hospitals, our high schools and our highways.

So much for my week of positivity!

CQC and Southern Cross – a retrospective

I’ve bemoaned both the changes in the CQC and the financial troubles of Southern Cross over the last few years since I started writing this blog.

For today, a bit of a ‘lazy post’ – I thought I’d collate all the posts that I’d made on those two subjects. It provides a little bit of context and stops me repeating myself.

Southern Cross

Trouble at Southern Cross (2/7/2008)

Active Care – Another Tale of Southern Cross? (16/8/2008  – READ THE COMMENTS!

Alton Centre, Active Care and Southern Cross – An Update (5/9/2008)

Southern Cross and Hillingdon (19/12//2008)

Frozen Reading (12/2/2009)

8 deaths – 10 days (26/2/2009) – oh the irony when I comment that Southern Cross own a lot of real estate.

The concerns and worries about the financial management of Southern Cross go back a long way. This is not ‘new’ news. The ‘new’ news is that the company is now close to the brink of collapse. There is almost an inevitability in this as those who sought to make a quick buck in the care sector realise that sometimes the figures don’t add up. Property doesn’t always pay. But making money on the back of what was a public monopoly (provision of care services) can lead to some rich pickings until some of that money needs to be spent. Corners are cut. Staff costs are cut. Older people are warehoused in increasingly larger residential and nursing homes while the roll-out of the so-called personalisation agenda rings very very hollow at the moment for those who are the most dependent and those who need long term care. Where this the personalisation within residential and nursing care services? Where are the small group homes with support for older adults with dementia? They don’t exist because they wouldn’t make a profit.

That is what those involved with personalisation need to address. Not how people who have capacity and ability to manage personal budgets or have families to help them will manage but how will personal budgets (health and social care) and personalisation help and create better systems for older adults in dementia nursing care. Give me an answer to these questions and I’ll have more faith.

CQC – Care Quality Commission

From the first day the CQC came into ‘being’

DoLs, IMHAs and the CQC (1/4/2009)  – these were all introduced on the same day. Do look at the quote from Barbara Young, the first Chair of the CQC. VERY telling.

Britain’s Homecare Scandal (10/4/2009) – another Panorama investigation.

Inspections (3/12/2009)

Can Gerry Robinson Fix Dementia Care Homes? (8/12/2009) – another TV programme.

Linford Park Nursing Home (3/8/2010)

Closing Care Homes (30/9/2010)

Lessons from the Care Sector (26/10/2010)

Trouble at the CQC (3/11/2010)

Johann Hari’s Manifesto for Change in Care Homes (26/1/2011) – one of which was ‘proper inspections’.

Scrutiny, CQC and ADASS (15/2/2011)

Excellence Ratings for Care Homes (1/3/2011)

Inspections and the CQC (11/3/2011)

Whistleblowing (7/4/2011)

Which Care? What Care? (19/4/2011)

Care Home Crises (16/5/2011)

So is this surprising? I wish it were.  I want to emphasise though that it is the management of the CQC that I feel is badly serving those who need support and care rather than the individual inspectors who I know have as many criticisms of the system as the rest of us do. How did this, or the last government allow regulation so toothless just as they are ratcheting up the OFSTED inspections? Does it say anything about how we, as a society, want to value or hide away adults with disabilities?  I suspect it does.

Trouble at the CQC

A lot of people working within the social care sector have had misgivings about some of the changes that have been taking place at the CQC (care quality commission). The CQC is responsible for monitoring and registering care services (as well as health services,  but I’m going to concentrate on care services because it’s what I know best) since its inception when it pulled together various previous regulatory bodies and picked up their functions.

There are a lot of lessons to be learnt for the future within the CQC  as we draw to a point where lots of services across health and social care will be merging and we are pushed towards joint management. There is a lot to be wary of.

Private Eye has an expose’ piece in the current issue (dated 29/10-11/1, in the ‘In the Back’ Section p29). Unfortunately the piece doesn’t appear in full on their website so you will all have to go out and buy a copy (seriously, if you are concerned about the CQC it is definitely worth a read and to be honest, I can’t recommend Private Eye highly enough!).

I wanted to draw on some of the issues raised in the piece so forgive the lack of links for the time-being.

The investigation carried out by Private Eye was alongside ‘Compassion in Care’ which is a charity set up to counter abuse in care homes. The organisation was set up by Eileen Chubb, a former care worker who witnessed abuse and who lost her job because she was a ‘whistleblower’. The organisation campaigns for the vulnerable in care homes.

The report highlights a number of concerns related to the CQC particularly how they have either ignored and in one case ‘upgraded’ via the now defunct star-system homes in which proven maltreatment has occurred.

As the Eye says

‘Only last month we reported how – just two months before a hospital nurse described a care home resident as suffering ‘the worst care of neglect’ she had seen, the CQC had wrongly promoted what had been a failing home, run by care home giants Southern Cross, back up to a two-star ‘rating’.

I don’t have the time to relay all of the information and quite unbelievable lack of teeth of the CQC in the face of appalling care services as relayed by the Eye but it makes for frightening although worryingly not surprising reading to me.

Another part of the article refers to the leaked staff survey results published in Community Care and that backs up informal discussions I have with some good friends who currently work in the CQC.

The Eye states that

CQC Insiders were worried that attempts to push through registration for all homes and agencies ahead of the 1 October deadline was compromising safety in the homes themselves’.

This absolutely mirrors the conversations that I have had with CQC friends, including being told that they were told to concentrate on these registrations at the expense of visiting homes where issues may have been arising –much to their own chagrin.

The other concerning conversation I had with said friends was that the CQC seemed to be increasingly reliant on local authorities ‘quality assurance’ teams to check on the local residential, nursing and domiciliary services. We can only guess at what might happen to some of these teams as the local councils make massive cuts. I don’t know if they will be able to provide as strong a service as they might in less frugal times.

The Eye pulls up the report and interviews given by the head of the CQC last month stating that 34 homes and 8 agencies were closed after they took ‘enforcement’ action as a way to prove their ‘strong arm’ regulation as well as 51 other services which had closed after poor ratings.

This is an area that Private Eye has been investigating and has tried to push CQC to provide details of these ‘enforcements’ as there was nothing about them in the CQC’s annual report published in April 2010. Private Eye and Compassion in Care have tried to find details of the deregistered homes b ut the information  has ‘disappeared’ from the CQC website and they have been stalled in their attempts to investigate.

Cynthia Bower, the Chief Executive of the CQC in her previous incarnation was the West Midland Strategic Health Authority which was responsible for overseeing the Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust Hospital. It is quite staggering that the responsibility for protecting standard of care for those who are arguably some of the most vulnerable in society should be under her charge.

I’ve railed against ‘desk based’ assessments which were happening prior to the existence of the CQC where inspectors do not actually visit homes that have previously scored ‘well’ in inspectors but rather rely on ‘self-assessments’. It is a national scandal that we have no reliable and functioning way of monitoring care homes and that the CQC itself is relying on local authority quality assurance visits when it should be setting the gold standard itself.

The piece ends with the comment that while the CQC hasn’t responded to the piece, John McDonnell MP will be raising the issue in the House of Commons so hopefully they will respond to him.

I rail where I can but the difficulty I sometimes face is time and that often homes are able to ‘put on their best face’ for social workers when we visit. We have limited roles usually in reference to one particular resident.

I have to say that all the personal contact I have had with CQC inspectors has been exceptional – when I have picked up concerns at a care home and contacted them directly but it is clear that the time is not allowed in the same way that it had been previously.

We are back to penny pinching and cost-cutting.

Thank you to Private Eye and Compassion in Care for investigating these issues. They should be on the front page of every national newspaper rather than tucked away in the pages of Private Eye – but I have a lot of time and faith in Private Eye to be honest. They have some of the better investigative journalism in  my very simplistic terms. Go out and buy this edition, all the editions and subscribe!

We cannot let it lie.

Crown Cleared

I saw on the BBC that the Crown Nursing Home in Harwell was cleared of the responsibility of the death of eight of the residents in January.

As I was so quick to condemn, it’s only right that I raise this again. I wrote about it previously here.

I want to pick up this information with good grace and move on. I really do. But the broken heating issue still niggles a little with me.

A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council said the pensioners died of natural causes.

An inquiry found that a breakdown in the heating system at the home played no part in the deaths as an alternative had been provided.

While obviously the inquiry is perfectly served to look into exactly these issues and while not responsible, I was hasty to jump to such a conclusion that broken heating would be linked.

The Oxford Mail provides a few more details.

A spokesman for Oxford County Council is quoted as saying

“As a result of the detailed look there was no evidence to suggest a direct link between the breakdown of the central heating at the nursing home and the sad deaths of people living there, who all died of natural causes.

“Alternative heating was provided by the privately-run home and the quality of care provided by staff during this period was found to be of a good standard.”

He said a further review of the case would be undertaken by the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board so that any further learning from the case can be shared with other care providers in Oxfordshire.

The CSCI, the Government watchdog that oversees adult social care in England, told the home to improve earlier this month after staff failed to inform them of the deaths and heating problem.

It issued the 16-bed home with a requirement notice, which means it must improve within 48 hours or within a set timescale.

It is the first of four steps of action the CSCI can take when care providers breach regulations.

A commission spokesman said: “As part of the commission’s enforcement powers, we issued the Crown Nursing Home with requirement notices for not informing the commission about several deaths in the home and the failure to inform us of the heating system not working.”

When CSCI is taken into the Care Quality Commission next month – well, I hope it has more teeth than CSCI – I hope it will provide less ‘desk’ inspections – I hope it will return to visiting every home regularly, and by regularly I mean at least annually. I don’t think that is a part of its remit though.

If there is one lesson that can be learnt over the last few weeks and possibly months and even years, it is that saving time with ‘desk’ inspections of targets met is a hideously false economy across the board.

Looking Back – A Professional View

There are a few general themes that have preoccupied me over the last year.

Probably most significantly, has been the change in the Mental Health Act.  Although there aren’t actually many of the substantial changes that were initially planned, there were some vital differences that have made significant changes to the implementation of the Act and, as will become increasingly apparent over the coming year, it’s interplay with the Mental Capacity Act..

As a Social Worker, the switch to the professional designation from Approved Social Worker to Approved Mental Health Professional is something that has caused consternation all round. Personally, it hasn’t really made any significant difference at the moment. Certainly not yet and not for as long as I’m working for a Trust that is still only sending Social Workers on the training in any case while they thrash out details regarding pay.

I have no doubt that change will come in this respect,  but it will be more slow stream.

Equally important, over the long term has been the removal of the  need for a doctor to be a Responsible Clinician (previously Responsible Medical Officer). Again, nothing has changed yet apart from the letter of the law. In the Trust I’m based in, there isn’t any great rush or wish to train anyone except doctors to do this and as for me, there is nothing in the world I’d less want to do (well, ok there are a few things I’d probably want to do less but I can extremely wholeheartedly state that it’s something I never intend to do).

The implementation of the Mental Capacity Act is something that has become more apparent. This was implemented last year but now more case law is developing. Working in a team that primarily works with older people, capacity is something we have to confront frequently. Actually, I am quite a fan of the legislation. It is more protective than the previous ‘common law’ solutions and I am much more frequently presented with wards asking me about whether they are depriving people of their liberty. It has become more of a ‘buzz word’ but it’s all good, in my view.

The rolling out of the Best Interests Assessments will further strengthen the right of the individual and it will be an interesting theme for the early part of the year and one I expect I will cover significantly – I have my training booked for February and the assessments will click into place from April.

Another theme I have returned to frequently relates to residential and long term care, specifically for the elderly.  I have to say, as has probably been guessed that this is a bugbear of mine. I have tried not to come across as overly negative because I have come across some wonderful and extremely caring settings. I worked in residential care for about 6 years and it is the path that led me to social work in the first place. The contact and the effect that some of the lowest paid workers, namely the hands on care staff, can have on someone’s life and quality of life is unbelieveable.

It’s easy to fall into a ‘public – good, private – bad’ view of long term care settings and of course things are never that easy but the move towards profit making and cost efficiency at the price of everything makes me personally uncomfortable.

This comment, on the Active Care thread sums up pretty much my thoughts, and my thanks to Sharon for sharing it with me.

Sharon Edens, on December 28th, 2008 at 8:28 am Said: Edit Comment

Southern Cross have indeed made more money by putting up the fees… nothing wrong with that, but what is not reported is the fact that they have also removed all capital expenditure from the hands of the Managers and regional managers and every piece of equipment which is needed now has to be agreed by the managing director even for basics like pressure releiving mattresses.
Southern Cross is a poor employer, I am aware of at least 10 Managers, within the midlands area who are actively seeking other jobs, they get no support, they are critisied all the time and they feel completely demoralised.
Southern Cross needs to wake up and get back to reality of ‘caring’ for those in its care and employ instead of watching the balance sheet all the time – remove some of the senior management whose salaries could be used to buy required equipment – remove people who do not value their employees work but rather will take a dislike to someone and do everything to get rid of them just based on that.
There are some really good homes, people working in the homes, but senior management are blind to their efforts……. senior management nursing morality seems to have disappeared!!!!!

Southern Cross seems to be indicative of the need to put profit before quality care. It’s ironic that although it is one of the largest care providers in the country, I have never had any personal experience of working with them. But I know  many like them.

My hope for the Best Interests Assessments when we have to assess people who are in residential and nursing care who do not have the capacity to make a decision as to their living environments, is that we are able to allay conditions to their placements that are able to be presented to the residential care homes and improve the conditions therein – by mandating that Mr X needs to have access to go to the local shops or Mrs Y has to be presented with choices of food. Little things. But it’s a hope I have.

But that’s more for next year.. all in all, I doubt the main issues will change much but I’ll explore them a little more over the week..

image

Southern Cross and Hillingdon

Southern Cross is one of the largest, if not the largest provider of private residential and nursing care in the UK. They had one or two financial hiccoughs earlier in the year. There have been a few stumbles along the way,  but they have now appointed a new Chief Executive, Jamie Buchan, a ‘turnaround specialist’ .

In a statement, Southern Cross said that a “key remit” for Buchan and his team will be to “refocus attention on excellence of service delivery and to develop a clear strategy to rebuild shareholder value”.

Well, it looks like he has the right kind of language to fit right into the care sector.

That’s comforting.

Yesterday, however, the MP for Hayes and Harlington raised the issue of the quality of care at Southern Cross homes in Hillingdon, in the House of Commons. In fact, his Early Day Motion reads as follows

That this House notes with extreme concern the reports of the poor standards of care in the residential homes for the elderly owned by Southern Cross in the London Borough of Hillingdon largely resulting from insufficient numbers of staff, working long hours without adequate support, management or training; further notes that Hillingdon Council and Primary Care Trust have at last suspended the placement of elderly people within these homes; and calls upon the Secretary of State for Health to launch an immediate investigation into care standards in these homes, and the role of the local authority in safeguarding the elderly residents in these settings, to take urgent action to protect the residents of the homes and to improve standards of care, including the withdrawal of contracts from Southern Cross.

It’s quite a staggering story that I hadn’t been aware of. What’s equality amazing to me is that this story doesn’t appear to have been touched by the national press. It has even been relegated to a few lines pointing to a video clip on BBC London – where it was first brought to my attention yesterday.

Fortunately, I could turn to the Hillingdon Times to provide further information.

There are four care homes in Hillingdon that are run by Southern Cross.  Aston House, Ashwood Care Home, Cedar House and Blenheim Care Home.

Now, I don’t know much about Hillingdon apart from it being where Heathrow Airport is but I imagine having to suspend placements in four care homes is having a pretty massive impact on the ability to find local and appropriate placements in the local area.

Where I work, when we have suspensions on placements even in one home, it has a fairly dramatic impact on waiting lists and service provision.

So back to Mr Donnell, the MP involved. He states in the Hillingdon Times that he has had a number of complaints about care in these homes.

“Over the past couple of years, concerns about elderly residential homes in Hillingdon have been raised with me.

“About 18 months ago a group of relatives came to me about how elderly members of their family have been treated.

This is no flash in the pan reaction but a situation that has been brewing over a long period of time.

The spokesman for Southern Cross says, a little ominously

“All except one of the Southern Cross care homes in the Hillingdon area have now received a ‘good’ rating following the latest inspection reports and we are concentrating on delivering a high level of quality care for all our residents.”

Faith in the inspection system isn’t particularly high at the moment and having a ‘good’ rating seems to be possible without necessarily providing a good standard of care.

It surely can’t be a coincidence that Southern Cross keep getting themselves into these situations as they relate to poor care provision.

One of the statements made by Mr Donnell in his statement to the House of Commons was that he didn’t want there to be a ‘Granny P’. All I can say is that there already have been many many older people who have been subjected to situations that are abusive and for which there have been no campaigns, no marches down Whitehall, no hand-wringing about the quality and delivery of adult social care and particularly of residential care.

It says enough that even this story is not more than a couple of lines on a local website anymore and it doesn’t seem to have interested the national press in the slightest.

Of course, you can’t make people be more interested than they are, but I think, were there the publicity behind these incidents, we, the general public, would be equally appalled.

Instead, the private companies cutting costs and poorly managing resources which are meant to be caring services can get away with providing a barely, if at all, acceptable standard of care.

I would love for there to be an investigation in the ways these contracts were handed out by local authorities who contracted out all their locally run residential and nursing homes to private companies. I think a few commissioners could be brought to the table – or at least brought to the homes to see what kind of services they are paying for.

We, social workers who are making placements, have been left with little choice in provision. If all the care homes in a borough are provided by the same company through block contracts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds that have been tied up for decades at a time, how are we in a position to complain to the commissioners about the services they are paying for when they are watching their own backs and in bed with the private care providers.

Just moving back to a personal experience I had a year or so ago. I had concerns about the treatment of someone I was working with in a residential home. I felt that his needs were not being managed. I complained to just about everyone – up to one of the commissioners. The commissioner in question took the word of the service provider over mine. He  had made the decision to award the contract to this care home and therefore felt, I expect, some loyalty to them. That is not how public services should interact with private companies.

edit  – For those with a personal interest in these matters there is an organisation that I have become aware of through the comments on this post which is the Relatives and Residents Association – Go take a look – we can all be more active in applying pressure relating to these matters.

Trouble at Southern Cross

Both The Times and The Guardian reported that Southern Cross Healthcare Group have been launched into some kind of financial crisis following the failure to repay a loan of some £46 million.

Times are getting harder and a lot of firms are failing – but Southern Cross are the largest provider and operator of Residential and Nursing Care  Homes in the UK.

I actually have to say I have had no dealings at all with Southern Cross in the years I’ve been working. So can say neither good nor bad things about them from personal experience.

But just putting a few pieces of very rudimentary information together

The Guardian quotes the company spokesman as saying that the reasons for their financial difficulties are

.. tighter local authority spending for a period of disappointing occupancy rates. High fixed costs and disappointing occupancy rates meant Active Care in particular was performing “significantly below forecasts”. The company also said occupancy levels had been hit by several unexpected deaths of residents in its homes for the elderly.

I was going to say that I’m no cynic, but that’s probably not true – I was reminded of a story I wrote about at the beginning of May where CSCI (Commission for Social Care Inspection) criticised a Southern Cross Care Home for having poor basic dementia training among other things.

You’d think though, that a large company like this would have contingencies for ‘several unexpected deaths of residents’

I know the previous time I wrote about Southern Cross it was in the context of a freeze on placements to a particular home following a poor CSCI report and the death of one of the residents. Disappointing occupancy rates? Quite possibly.

It’s strange that The Financial Times reported back in May that

‘The group has increased the cost of staying in its homes over the past six months, agreeing fee rises of 5 per cent on average with 85 per cent of its local authority customers.’

which is, more or less, in line with inflation and certainly higher than my proposed salary increase this year (!) so, less than six weeks later to blame failings on

‘tighter local authority spending’

seems more than a little churlish.

It seems one of the business practices of Southern Cross was based around building property to lease it back and making its profit partly on property portfolios and management.

The Times quotes the Chief Executive saying

“The care homes sector is cyclical and the cycle has turned down. The margins of two or three years ago will likely be squeezed and fall at least 5 per cent in the next two years.”

I am no accountant but surely cyclical also means, to some extent predicable.. basic kind of saving-for-a-rainy-day type stuff.

Anyway, I am the last person who should really be commenting on Southern Cross’ business model. My idea of wise investment is an instant access savings account.

But I can’t help but wonder what the implications will be for people who are in the residential homes that are failing.

A large proportion of care services,  both residential and domiciliary, has been out-sourced to private companies who have many different interests at heart not least, shareholders.

If they see a death as ‘a disappointing occupancy level’  and lurch towards crisis when there is a cyclical downturn it doesn’t really augur well for planning long term care.

Anyway, at least two of the execs who were in charge of running the company managed to sell their own stock when they were at a high of 550p in December before leaving the company..

The stock fell to 130p yesterday.

And other factors that don’t endear the company, which again, I have had no personal contact include one which was highlighted by Mental Nurse back in April indicating that they were involved in the landmark decision in the High Court which ruled that Care homes can evict residents by being the owners of the Care Home that was trying to do the evicting..

This is also the same Southern Cross that opposed the payment of £7.02 per hour for Senior Care Workers – many of whom were from the Philippines and were refused visas to stay on the basis of the wages that they were receiving – thus being deported.

It doesn’t get much better for Southern Cross (isn’t Google a wonderful thing) as, The Times says again, in another article that

‘In November, The Sunday Times conducted an undercover investigation, with a reporter posing as a carer, and documented a series of alleged abuses and said the home was under-resourced and understaffed.’

At, yes, a Southern Cross Home.

Between deaths, attempted evictions, seemingly poor payment and treatment of staff and undercover reporting that proves, if more evidence were needed, that there is a poor quality delivery of care due to understaffing and under-resourcing.. it is a little clearer why there might have been underoccupancy.

I’m sure in such a large company there are some good quality care homes among there somewhere but reputations do stick when placements are being made – I certainly know there are some companies that I am less likely to make placements with than others, on the basis of how some of the different homes that they own are run – rightly or wrongly you can’t take chances when you are choosing the place that someone is likely to be living for the rest of their life.

But at least some of the executives got out at the top..

I just wonder how this leaves and will leave those who are receiving the services at the moment.