Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services
In my Written Statement of 25 July I informed Members of the progress made on the re-structuring of Southern Cross Healthcare Ltd and its intention of transferring all of its care homes to alternative care providers. Throughout this process the Welsh Government’s overriding concern has remained the welfare of each resident.
Over the summer officials have kept in close contact with Southern Cross’ senior management. We have been told that Southern Cross’ landlords have been working with four prospective providers who between them have now expressed an interest in operating all of the 33 care homes in Wales.
There are still a number of steps which need to be completed before this transition can occur. Agreements need to be signed between Southern Cross and the prospective providers to transfer its business and assets at each home to them and consultation with staff under the TUPE regulations is needed. We have been told these steps are underway.
In order to operate, the prospective providers must secure registration of their services with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). This is to ensure they can deliver high quality, sustainable services. In addition, they need to demonstrate their financial viability to operate their homes. Registration is a crucial step, the new providers have a duty to demonstrate that they have the ability to meet the standards of care required in law and to be able to maintain these services for the future.
Contingency plans to respond to any adverse events continue to be maintained at a local level by local authorities and local health boards. In addition, the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru has hosted two workshops for authorities and health boards to share best practice in the development of these plans and also to meet with representatives from the prospective alternative care providers.