Care home manager 'unsurprised' at failing Charity Commission test

Commission staff were supportive and home was 'drifting', admits Rest Convalescent Hotel boss

The general manager of the care home that failed the Charity Commission's public benefit assessment exercise said yesterday that he was not surprised by the verdict.

The Rest Convalescent Hotel
in south Wales has objects of providing a rest home for those who are convalescing or who are disabled or chronically ill.

But the commission concluded that the charity was currently providing holidays primarily - although not exclusively - for the elderly or disabled. It said this was not a charitable purpose.

Chris Williamson, the home's general manager, admitted the charity had been "drifting" since new care standards legislation meant it could no longer provide care, and the decline in heavy industry in the region meant guest numbers were falling.

He admitted that conversations during the commission's visit meant its verdict was "not a complete surprise".

But he praised the commission's supportive attitude. "They have indicated they are willing to facilitate any changes we need to make, which is positive," he said. "We have got work to do to get back to our core business, but we are up for it."
The commission found that the charity did not offer any reduction in its fees, which go up to £373 a week, for those unable to afford them, and noted that the hotel's loyalty discount meant people were likely to return year after year regardless of their medical condition.

"This would indicate the hotel's services are generally not directed to the stated object of convalescence," the commission's report said.

It said the trustees must "re-examine the charitable aim and consider whether it is still capable of being furthered in the current economic and social circumstances and interests of the charity".

If they decided it was not, they must develop new charitable aims.   

Penylan House Jewish Retirement and Nursing Home
in Cardiff failed the test because, according the commission, it did not do enough to mitigate its high fees.

The home, which has net assets of just over £2m, charges fees of up to £700 a week (£36,400 a year), while local authority grants only cover up to 71 per cent of that fee. The commission said the top-up fee of up to £300 a week was unaffordable to many.

The regulator acknowledged that the charity sometimes waived the top-up fee case by case, accounting for just over 3 per cent of its income.

But it criticised the charity for not having a specific budgeted fund for those who could not afford the top-up, and for failing to publicise that assistance might be available.

"Mitigation is not occurring on a basis that is sufficient to say that the opportunity to benefit for those who cannot afford the fees is material," the commission concluded.

In a statement, the charity's trustees said they would study the report and respond in due course.

Cornwall Old People's Housing Society, which passed the test, admitted people entitled to local authority grants regardless of their ability to pay a top-up, the commission found. This help accounted for three per cent of its income and helped nine per cent of its residents. The charity has assets of just under £600,000.

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