The care home operator Four Seasons has gone into administration, leaving 17,000 residents and 20,000 staff under a cloud of uncertainty.
The appointment of administrators by two of Four Seasons’ holding companies marks the biggest care home business collapse since 2011, when Southern Cross suffered the same fate.
Cracks first showed at Four Seasons in 2015, when the company sold off property in a bid to avoid further financial difficulty. In 2016, credit rating agency Moody’s predicted the company would suffer from the National Living Wage introduction coupled with fall in funding from local authorities.
Simon Bottery, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, said: “Today’s announcement will be worrying for the 17,000 Four Seasons residents and their families, though it is important to recognise there is no immediate threat to the operation of Four Seasons’ care homes.
“The problems facing Four Seasons show the extreme pressure that the social care system in England is under. Despite recent moves to shore up social care providers, years of chronic underfunding have left services at crisis point. As the Competition and Markets Authority has identified, many care homes that rely on publicly-funded residents are now financially unsustainable.
“It is not just care homes but the whole social care system which desperately needs reform. Successive administrations have promised to overhaul the system, yet two years after the government committed to publishing a social care green paper, it is yet to see the light of day.”
What will happen to the residents?
No plans have been made to move residents. The group’s medical director Dr Claire Royston commented: “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.”