The lessons of Southern Cross

I’m finding it heartbreaking to see the fear and dismay of families whose loved ones are residents in Southern Cross care homes.

To those living in long-term care, stability and continuity are paramount. Familiarity is so important, as is trust in their carers and confidence that life will bring no unexpected upheaval.

Instead, the 31,000 residents in the company’s 751 care homes and their families are facing months of uncertainty and the prospect of worrying disruption as some homes are to be closed and staff sacked.

The plight of the residents of Southern Cross, the UK’s largest care home provider reeling from half-year losses of £311 million, reminds us how important it is to make sure we have financial plans in place to ensure stability and continuity of care for our elderly relatives.

Without proper planning, families can find they run out of money when trying to fund long-term care, meaning a loved one has to move out of a home in which they have been comfortably settled.

Sometimes it’s a case of unlocking local authority funds to which you may be entitled – but which councils may tend not to shout about.

Sometimes it’s a case of finding creative ways to realise family assets, such as through equity-release mortgages.

From my own personal experience, I know how important this is. I’ve been advising families for 30 years and I arranged care for my own elderly parents.

Because of my work as a volunteer with charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society and in-depth training with Age Concern, I’m now one of very few financial advisers locally with this specialist knowledge.

Long-term care funding requires sensitivity, empathy and expertise. Advice from an independent financial adviser is highly recommended.