Care home residents face uncertainty

Residents of an Exmouth care home could face an uncertain future after its operator was plunged into financial crisis.

Southern Cross Healthcare, which operates Windsor Lodge Care Home in Cranford Avenue, has announced a loss of �311 million over the past six months, leading the company’s chairman to describe its situation as ‘critical’.

The company says it can no longer afford its rent obligations at its 750 UK homes, and is trying to agree reduced terms with its landlords.

Windsor Lodge looks after adults with severe learning disabilities, and currently has nine residents.

Southern Cross’s chairman, Christopher Fisher, said: “Southern Cross is now in a critical financial position and cannot afford to meet its future rent obligations in full.

“Over the coming weeks the key stakeholders will need to agree on a comprehensive package to restructure Southern Cross financial affairs, and underpin the continued successful operation of Southern Cross homes.

“In the view of the directors, there are reasonable grounds for believing that such an outcome can be secured.”

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The company would not comment on speculation that 200 of its care homes could be sold, and would not say how its rent negotiations would affect Windsor Lodge.

Devon County Council has moved to reassure residents that they will be looked after if Southern Cross goes out of business.

A council spokesman said: “We are monitoring the national situation involving Southern Cross and have contingency plans in place if we need to respond.

“We would like to reassure people that the authority is in a position to respond and support everybody for whom we have a responsibility and other residents in these units if they require and request assistance.”