Another Southern Cross ‘unlikely’ says Ronald Mair

The collapse of care home operator Southern Cross is “not a scenario” that would apply to the majority of care providers in Scotland, the national body for the industry has said.

Ronald Mair, chief executive of Scottish Care, said Southern Cross, which hit critical financial problems earlier this year, had been the only care home company in the country listed on the stock market.

He said the rest of the sector was made up of a small number of companies which involve shareholders alongside independent care homes.

Mr Mair was giving evidence to MSPs on Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into regulation of care for older people. The inquiry comes after Southern Cross, which had 98 homes in Scotland with about 4,500 residents, had to be shut down in July.

MSPs are examining the role of Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS), the regulator of care, social work and child protection services, and considering how the financial viability of care home firms can be monitored.

Mr Mair said: “The difficulty in relation to the Southern Cross scenario was that the collapse was not of individual care homes.

“The collapse was of Southern Cross as a publicly-listed company and, at the end of the day, was actually less to do with the delivery of care and more to do with the financial modelling that the company was involved in. And, to that extent, it’s not a scenario that applies generally across Scotland.

“There is a danger of seeing something there that needs to be addressed and then looking to SCSWIS to apply that. It would not be applicable to the majority of care homes in the Scottish context.”

MSPs also heard evidence from the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland, Viewpoint Housing Association and UK Home Care Association.