Hundreds of elderly people across the North West are facing an uncertain future amid financial troubles at a care home company.
Southern Cross Healthcare operates four care homes in the North West. It owns Culmore Manor and Greenhaw Lodge in Derry, Longfield in Eglinton and Melmount Manor in Strabane.
The company made half year losses of £311 million and will now pay nearly a third less to its landlords over the next four months.
However, there are concerns about what will happen if this move doesn’t work with some analysts suggesting its residents could be left “high and dry.”
The Darlington-based company has previusly warned that it was in “critical financial condition”.
There has been mounting concern over the situation among the elderly residents and their carers and relatives.
Judy Downey, from the Relatives and Residents Association charity, said the developments were worrying.
“It’s a mixture of anguish and concern and panic,” she said. “The whole business of closure of care homes is something the Relatives and Residents Association has been really concerned about for some time.
“Homes close on a regular basis for one reason or another, and we’re very concerned that they have the same status in law as a corner shop that gives up, and people are left high and dry.”
Southern Cross has reiterated its belief that a longer-term solution to its troubles would be “forthcoming”.
The firm said it was confident “a critical mass of landlords” would support the move. However, there has been no official agreement.
The GMB union, which has around 12,000 members working in the care homes, has urged politicians to take action to help secure the future for the staff and the residents.