One of the biggest providers of care homes in the country, Four Seasons Health Care, which owns a large home in Kirkcaldy, has announced that it has entered administration.
Four Seasons runs more than 30 homes across Scotland, including Gowrie House, a 60-roomed care facility in the town’s West Albert Road.
It also has Henderson House in Dalgety Bay; Benarty View in Kelty; Craighead in Newport-on-Tay; Lunardi Court in Cupar and Earlsferry House in Elie.
Two of the holding companies behind the company appointed administrators today after struggling to repay their debts.
The group, which was founded in 1988 by Kirkcaldy businessman Robert Kilgour and sold in 2004, has about 17,000 residents and patients and employs around 20,000 staff.
Four Seasons has said that the move will not affect the care of its residents or lead to the closure of homes.
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Dr Claire Royston, group medical director, said: “Today’s news does not change the way we operate or how our homes are run or prompt any change for residents, families, employees and indeed suppliers.
“It marks the latest stage in the group’s restructuring process and allows us to move ahead with an orderly, independent sales process.”
The news prompted Age Scotland, the charity for older people, to seek assurances for residents and their families about their long-term provision.
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s Chief Executive said: “This news demonstrates the significant challenges faced by the social care sector if one of the biggest operators in the business is facing administration. No doubt alarm bells will be ringing at the highest levels of the Scottish Government and local authorities who should be looking at how they ensure continuity of care if no buyer is found for the business.
“It is vital that those people at the heart of this, the residents, families and staff of the large number of care homes operated by Four Seasons, are given reassurance that there will be no change to their care as today’s news will be a worrying time for them all.
“Age Scotland has been warning of the challenges in the social care sector for years. There are significant funding and staffing issues which makes the level of social care older people deserve more and more difficult to provide.”
And the GMB union which represents care workers issued a statement saying its main aim would be to safeguard members’ jobs.
Responding to today’s announcement GMB Scotland senior organiser, Drew Duffy said: “This is yet another case in point of the crisis in our care sector.
“Our immediate priority is the safeguard of our members’ jobs and conditions across Four Seasons homes in Scotland and to help tackle any uncertainty for an estimated 1800 service users and their families.
“That’s why we have asked for an urgent meeting with the Scottish Government and COSLA representatives. We will also continue to work with our union across the rest of the UK and in our engagements with the employer, administrators and the UK Government.
“Four Seasons is just the tip of the iceberg and there is a far wider debate that needs to be had about the sustainability of our care sector in its present form.”