A Sussex society providing specialist residential and home care for elderly people has received an unexpected £100,000 windfall.
Abbeyfield Ferring Society was presented with the substantial donation following the solvent liquidation of care home and sheltered accommodation provider Careways Trust by accountancy, investment management and tax group Smith & Williamson.
The society, part of the international Abbeyfield network, runs the Cornwall House residential home and the Old School House supported living in the village of Ferring, near Worthing, as well as supporting older people in their own homes.
The donation – from surplus money held by the trust after all creditors had been paid in full – is funding a new kitchen and revamped garden area at Old School House.
Not-for-profit Abbeyfield Ferring was chosen to receive the windfall because it is based in Sussex, the county where Careways’ own residential home was based, and operates in a similar field.
Careways Trust Ltd (then Crossways Trust) was established as a charity in 1949 by 22 member benevolent funds to provide auxiliary care and accommodation for their elderly or infirm beneficiaries.
The trust thrived for 60 years, but by 2009 its financial performance became a cause for concern due to increased care home regulations and costs, member funds closing their own homes and pension fund deficits.
Without appropriate corrective action the trust would, over a period, most likely have become insolvent.
Careways Trust chairman Ray Flanigan said: “There had been many attempts to turn things around, but it was a real struggle for the trustees to try to run a business on a voluntary basis and still keep an eye on the trust’s charitable aims.
“We reluctantly decided – on advice – that the trust had run its course. If we had tried to go on much longer the capital would have been eaten up, with nothing left for the charities we’ve now been able to support.”
Smith & Williamson got involved in 2014 – when the trust was operating sheltered accommodation in Birmingham and a care home in Sussex – to help plan strategy and achieve an acceptable solution.
The trust first sold the 19-unit Buckingham Court sheltered accommodation complex in Selly Oak, Birmingham as a going concern in 2015, followed by Weald Hall and Lodge in Wadhurst, East Sussex, a traditional country house care home providing residential and dementia care, again as a going concern.
Careways then entered into Members Voluntary Liquidation, with the unanimous agreement of its member funds.
Mr Flanigan added: “Smith & Williamson have been incredibly helpful – I can’t praise them enough.
“Greg Palfrey, Craig Aitchison and the team have enabled us to not put a foot wrong throughout this whole process with exceedingly sound advice and support.
“They have dealt with incredibly complex issues, marshalled us through difficult situations, worked on strategy and have been with us all the way.”
Greg Palfrey, Smith & Williamson partner and national head of restructuring and recovery, said: “Our intimate knowledge of the care and charity sectors stood us in good stead, as did our commercial viewpoint.
“We worked closely with the trustees on strategy and options and in tandem with the Charity Commission, the Care Quality Commission, pension trusts and lawyers on delivering the best possible solution for Careways Trust.”
Southampton-based Mr Palfrey added: “Our expertise in this field is second-to-none and our early involvement with clients and ongoing advisory services helps them to plan the optimum outcome – not always closure – through close partnership working with all involved.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to the care sector, we are hosting a seminar, Sunshine after the Rain, in Southampton on 24th April and interested parties can request full details by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Abbeyfield Ferring chief operating officer Jacqui Swindells said: “We are delighted to receive such a large donation which will enable us to continue our work to help people live independent lives with help available when needed.
“This wonderful amount of money is being used to completely refurbish the kitchen at Old School House, supported accommodation complex in Ferring, as well as redesigning, extending and improving the garden.
“Old School House is a halfway house between one’s own home and a care home. Our 11 residents live independently in self-contained flatlets, but come together for meals and social gatherings and we have staff on site 12 hours a day.”
The not-for-profit registered Abbeyfield Ferring Society was founded in 1980 by the late Bill Cornwell and his wife Joan to provide high standards of help at home, supported living and residential care for the older residents of Ferring and surrounding area.
It is a member of the Abbeyfield Society, a national and international network of high quality care services and care homes with more than 9,500 people in 720 houses worldwide.
A second donation, of £400,000, was given by Careways Trust to Dementia UK and will fund 16 new Admiral Nurses.