Care workers and clients told business as usual, despite administration

BORDERS users of Choices Care have been promised their services will be retained – despite the firm going into administration, writes Kenny Paterson.

And staff who were employed by the Livingston-based care firm which operates in Hawick and Kelso have been told they will keep their jobs on the same working terms they previously had when a new provider is found.

Already carers and their clients with learning disabilities and mental health issues in the two towns have been told that Mears Care Scotland Limited has bought the supported living division of Choices Care, safeguarding 500 jobs out of 1,400 employed in Scotland and the north-east of England. The company looks after 800 people in both areas.

Elaine Torrance, Scottish Borders Council’s head of social care and health, said: “Prior to going into administration, Choices managed three service areas in the Borders – a care-at-home service in the Hawick and Kelso areas for people living in their own homes, a small supported living service and a small residential unit in Hawick for adults with learning disabilities.

“All of these services are now being managed and run by an administrator (Zolfo Cooper) whilst new companies are being identified to take on these services as a going concern.

“I have been advised that the administrator is making contact directly with staff, service users and carers to update them on the current position.”

Mrs Torrance added that the council is in “close contact” with Zolfo Cooper which has said “continuity of care to people who receive services and their staff is the highest priority”.

She went on: “They have confirmed that services will continue to be provided to all people receiving care and have advised that staff will transfer to any new provider on their existing terms and conditions.”

Choices Care was awarded contracts to provide services in Kelso and Hawick in 2009, but administrators were called in last week after it experienced cash-flow problems.

Zolfo Cooper said on Friday that the two parts of the business not yet sold, including care services for the elderly and people recently discharged from hospital, would continue to trade as normal while a buyer was sought.

Zolfo Cooper partner Peter Holder said: “The key aspect all along in this process has been to ensure that services continue to be provided to all users without interruption. Our focus is very much on securing a suitable buyer for the remaining businesses.

“We have already received a number of inquiries from interested parties and would welcome further expressions of interest.”

Mr Holder added: “In the meantime, we will continue to ensure that service users experience no disruption to the quality care they are accustomed to.”