Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services
In my letter of 6 October I informed Members of the plans by Southern Cross Healthcare Ltd to transfer all of its care homes in the UK to alternative providers and attached a copy of a statement by the company on this.
Throughout this process you will know that my overriding concern has been for the residents of the homes in Wales affected. I am therefore pleased to be able to confirm that all of the company’s 33 care homes in Wales have been successfully transferred and registered with alternative providers to time. As a result residents in these homes have experienced continuity of care as we had hoped and their placements have not been put at risk. This is welcome news.
The former Southern Cross care homes in Wales will now be operated by four alternative providers, namely HC One (with 23 homes), Four Seasons (No. 9) (with 7 homes), Adiemus (with 2 homes) and Handsale (with 1 home). These providers have had to demonstrate that they have the ability to meet the strict criteria for registration to provide services set by the Care Standards Act 2000 and the regulations made under this for care homes and to be able to maintain these services for the future. The assessments undertaken by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) to assure this have been robust. The alternative providers have had to demonstrate their financial and operational viability to operate these homes, with their applications being rigorously assessed by a dedicated team within CSSIW with support from our Department for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science (BETS). Their efforts in undertaking this have been extensive, invaluable and much appreciated. I also welcome the fact that CSSIW will continue to monitor the quality of services provided in these homes in the coming months to ensure high standards of care are provided.
Although this situation provides greater assurance for residents and their families in Wales, I recognise that wider issues surrounding Southern Cross remain. A number of homes still await transfer and registration in England and Scotland. Welsh authorities are monitoring the position of any of their residents placed in these homes. In addition the experience of Southern Cross has raised important questions in terms of commissioning and regulation of services. As part of our social services reforms we will be examining what steps need to be taken to develop a better understanding of commercial risk and what changes need to be made both in relation to commissioning practice and the regulatory framework to manage this. We are in discussion with the UK Government and other Devolved Administrations about these broader issues