Four Seasons: "Only people who have something to hide are against transparency"

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Monday 5th December 2011
Embargo: 00.01 hrs, Tuesday 6th December 2011

Directors of adult social services have welcomed Four Season's 'mature and transparent' attitude towards working to show the public the financial stability of care businesses.

ADASS President Peter Hay, who has led for the Association throughout the Southern Cross episode, has stressed that a draft assessment of Four Season's financial prospects, leaked to the media within the past fortnight, was very much a 'work in progress'. Its leak, while incomplete, has met with a mature response from Four Seasons and the company's decision to participate wholly in the completion of a full and public financial analysis.

He also emphasised that the original document, used by other organisations to undermine the Four Seasons' takeover of Southern Cross homes, "was a first step towards discovering what the company is doing with social services departments up and down the country, and to sharpen up our knowledge, in the light of the Southern Cross experience, of how care providers are structured and funded.

"The first draft report was put together by an independent source using publicly available information, to give us some idea of what a `Statement of Transparency' would look like. It painted a mixed picture as Four Seasons (like the majority of care providers) isn't a publicly listed company and not all its data are in the public domain.

"ADASS deeply regrets both the leak of this draft and its use to draw inaccurate conclusions. Our actions over recent months have been consistently to reassure residents and relatives, and ADASS would not wish to do otherwise.

"We are delighted that Four Seasons has responded to the leak with a commitment to developing this insight work together. We're now working with Four Seasons, with the same independent author using the same format to use all the data available. Four Seasons has given us full transparency and access to information. Our shared aim is to produce tools that help the public make decisions about care following the Southern Cross experience. This type of financial statement has never been produced before and we welcome the commitment to exploring its use."

Using the new direction of transparency that central government is promoting, ADASS wants to work with care providers to create shared understanding of how the financial structures of providers support the quality of care and the investment needed. This is particularly crucial for companies like Four Seasons who will need to invest to improve their recent acquisitions

Mr Hay said today: "I am absolutely delighted by Four Seasons' response as it can give us real confidence in this process."

He went on to 'disagree fundamentally' with the analysis that Four Seasons will replicate the failure of Southern Cross. "It follows a very different business model indeed," he said, pointing to two core facts.

"First, Four Seasons is a profitable business. The second core fact is that Four Seasons owns two thirds of its property whereas Southern Cross was not a property owner at all, and had struggled throughout with its landlord model - this is a fundamental difference between the way the two business are organised."

Mr Hay concluded: "The confidence I have in Four Seasons is founded on a wider belief - that only people who have something to hide tend not to favour transparency. I am absolutely delighted that Four Seasons are committed to working with us in this very transparent way - and I think that that alone is a significant reason to be confident in what they are offering the public at this time.

"We are sure that other care providers will follow Four Season's example and that together we can give the public the peace of mind they deserve when buying care"

ENDS

For further information contact:
Peter Hay, ADASS President, 0121 303 2992
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755

EDITORIAL NOTES

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors of adult social services in local authorities in England. DASSs have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people and adults with disabilities, while over 50 per cent also run social housing departments. ADASS members might also share a number of responsibilities for the provision and/or commissioning of housing, leisure, library, culture and arts services within their councils.