Care operator struggling with debt
Kilgour ‘sad’ as Four Seasons falls into administration
Saddened: Robert Kilgour is not surprised by the problems at Four Seasons (pic: Terry Murden)
Robert Kilgour, the Scottish businessman who founded the Four Seasons Health Care company, said he is “very sad” to hear it has collapsed into administration.
The company is one of Britain’s biggest private care home operators but has failed to reduce its £500 million debt pile. It serves about 17,000 residents and patients and employs 22,000 staff at 253 homes, including 30 in Scotland.
Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) is handling the administration, which is the biggest in the care homes sector since Southern Cross collapsed in 2011. It is hoped a buyer can be found.
Mr Kilgour set up Four Seasons in 1989 and sold it is 2004 when he set up Renaissance Care. He sold his remaining stake in Four Seasons a year later.
He said: “Very sad to hear this but it was probably inevitable given the large debt pile involved, the tough trading conditions and the current care funding climate.
“However my very best wishes go out to all of the hard working staff at Four Seasons who are doing such a great job caring for all the vulnerable elderly residents involved in very difficult circumstances.”
Terra Firma Capital Partners, the private equity vehicle headed by financier Guy Hands, paid £825m for Four Seasons in 2012. A large proportion of its debt is now held by H/2 Capital Partners, a US-based hedge fund which is tipped to buy the business.
Union says ‘tip of iceberg’
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 1,800 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.
“Let’s be clear that the public purse is largely funding these failing providers and the financiers behind them, while the rights of workers at the coal face, mainly low paid women, are constantly under attack. This is a toxic mix for staff and service users alike.
“If we leave this unchallenged then we will only continue to revisit the problems we are facing today in Four Seasons elsewhere in the sector. This must stop and the sector must change.”
Care at risk
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “This will be a deeply worrying time for hundreds of Four Seasons residents and staff. People’s jobs and people’s care is being put at risk.
“Both Conservative and SNP governments have repeatedly delayed confronting the funding and structural problems in social care. This is further evidence that the contemporary model of social care in a care home setting is in fundamental need of a rethink.
“We need an effective and efficient NHS and care system which will be there for our loved ones when they need it. Instead we have people stuck in hospital for up to 600 days after doctors declared them ready to leave because community care packages simply aren’t available. That kind of experience has a devastating impact on people’s physical and mental health.”