About us

About Us - Residential Care Home

About us

We are a family business with four highly rated and distinctive care homes in Devon – and a passion for delivering the absolute best in care, nursing and quality of life in residential homes. We aim to achieve this by moving beyond how care is perceived into what is possible.

Southern Healthcare was founded in 2001 by Geoffrey Cox, a respected figure in social care. Together with his wife, Margot Whittaker they have become well-known advocates for radical change in the care sector, locally and nationally

What we do

Southern Healthcare is all about developing people, building caring relationships and focusing on residents’ quality of life.

Our teams are highly trained, both clinically and emotionally. We take enormous pride in the quality of care we offer and are deeply committed to improving the life and wellbeing of older people. We want everyone to enjoy being with us and we make every effort to ensure this approach is taken by everyone involved.

Southern Healthcare has really embraced the ethos of person-centeredness. Developing caring partnerships with all who are within the home. This is routed in ‘the way of being’ pioneered by Carl Rogers. Southern Healthcare also embraces the philosophies of Tony Robbins, David Sheard, and Bill Thomas; people who have researched and developed philosophies of care and relationships over many years.

We combine numerous influences designed to put the person we care for first. Our priorities are to understand and to apply what gives meaning to people, enhances wellbeing and making every day  as enjoyable as it can be.

Home residents enjoying outdoor socialising

Training academy

We are launching the Southern Healthcare Training Academy to deliver innovative training in well being and person centred philosophies such as the Eden Alternative and residential nurse training.

Our training is available both to our own staff and other like minded Providers from our new training facilities in the centre of Dawlish, at Eden House, The Strand, Dawlish.

care home resident dancing

The Eden Alternative

The Eden Alternative is an innovative philosophy of care which has developed in 1994.

It is an ‘alternative’ because it drives forward a more positive and inclusive culture of care prioritising wellbeing for both residents, team members and families, and builds an inclusive environment that may seem different from most people’s experience, understanding or perception of residential care. It supports teams to move beyond from the traditional medical model of care towards a more inclusive and relationship directed, form of care.

The programme has many elements that focus on wellbeing purpose and quality of life for all involved within the home. It focuses on what a modern care home could be like and works to ensure residents are feeling safe, content and happy.

The programme looks at leadership, personal growth  and positive change, and identifies what an organisation needs to introduce to ensure everyone feels included, connected and empowered. This philosophy of care model has been tried and tested around the world since it was founded in 1994 by Dr Bill Thomas.

Play Video

The Eden Alternative is founded on the belief that ageing can be a continuing stage of development growth and contribution, rather than seen as a period of decline. The philosophy works in all forms of residential and community care.

The Eden Alternative philosophy of care is strikingly simple: trained Eden Associates help people to live fulfilled lives. The philosophy is based on ten principles and seven domains of well-being that have been developed to support the eradication of Loneliness, Helplessness and Boredom.

couple holding hands

The Eden Alternative is about continually improving the culture of care. The departmentalised, task orientation of the institutional model has created a more medical based culture that is characterised by operating like a hospital ward. By moving away from a top-down bureaucratic approach to management and moving decision making closer to those living there, Edenising organisations are helping to support a meaningful life for all those they care for and support.

The beauty of the Eden Alternative philosophy is its flexibility and adaptability. As it is a philosophy, and not a project or package that can be unwrapped and implemented, it is used in a wide range of cultural environments and care situations across the world. The philosophy has been particularly successful in organisations caring for people living with advanced dementia.

Studies show that implementation of the Eden Alternative philosophy is a powerful tool for improving quality of life and quality of care for those living in long term care. Organisations that have adopted Eden as a philosophy have found that there is improved staff satisfaction and retention and significant decreases in the use of medication. Most importantly, the people in residence, supported by care givers, can once again direct their own daily lives. The UK board includes the MD of Southern Healthcare, Geoffrey Cox, with Margot Whittaker, RGN, our Director of Nursing, as its director and Jacqui Arnold, Occupational Psychologist and Senior Trainer. They work with June Burgess, RGN, who was responsible for bringing Eden to this country.

Who we are

Geoffrey Cox Llb

Geoffrey Cox Llb

Managing Director
MSc Dementia Studies - Southern Healthcare

Margot Whittaker RGN

Margot Whittaker RGN

Director of Nursing and Compliance
BSc, Dip HS, Master NLP Prac

Emma Seal RGN

Emma Seal RGN

Registered Manager & Deputy Director of Nursing and Compliance
The Seaton Nursing Home

Gabriela (Mimi) Ogreanu

Gabriela (Mimi) Ogreanu

Registered Manager
Sefton Hall Nursing Home

Lorna Smith

Lorna Smith

Registered Manager
Parkwood House Nursing Home

Kerry Dempsey

Kerry Dempsey

Home Manager
The Old Rectory Nursing Home

Alan Hall

Alan Hall

Financial Controller

Devon Care Homes Collaborative

Southern Healthcare is very proud to be a founding member of the Devon Care Homes Collaborative.

The collaborative succeeded the Devon Care Homes Kitemark Group by expanding its reach to include homes in Torbay and Plymouth and is dedicated to enhancing standards of care and the quality of life for the residents in Devon care homes.

Covid 19 safe

Southern Healthcare is as committed to keeping people Covid safe as it is to raising the quality of life of residents within our Homes. In each Home our team collectively works well together for the benefit of our residents, ensuring that days are filled with meaningful activities, loving companionship and spontaneous kindness and fun.

Covid safe care

Join Our Team

At Southern Healthcare, we believe in helping our team to reach their full potential.

Each of our four homes – The Old Rectory in Exeter, Parkwood House in Plymouth, The Seaton Nursing Home and Sefton Hall in Dawlish – pride themselves on being unique settings with a powerful, shared ethos and we understand that close, quality relationships between the team and residents are crucial to making our homes happy places for those who live and work in them.

Care nurse with Sefton Hall resident

Our passion filters down from Southern Healthcare’s Managing Director, Geoffrey Cox. Geoffrey is dedicated to driving up standards in nursing and residential care and helped to found the Devon Kite Mark which has become a benchmark of best practice for the industry.

On a personal level, Geoffrey also loves to get involved in activities for the residents – especially the provision of live music.

We are a friendly and dynamic team – everything we do is for the benefit or our residents, but we like to have fun while we are doing it. As well as providing exceptional care, we create meaningful activities for our residents, such as themed events, trips out and animal therapy. And we love to include families and friends wherever possible.

We offer competitive rates of pay, including staff bonuses, and run our own bespoke training sessions to develop skills and enhance career prospects.

We are always happy to hear from nursing and care professionals who are fun-loving and passionate about providing exceptional care for the elderly. We are looking for individuals who want to see their work as more than just a job, and to be instead, part of a dynamic, forward- looking team. In return, we offer a stimulating, person centred environment with a strong emphasis on team wellbeing and development.

We are very honoured that our team has been recognized for the amazing work that we all do.

Currently we have three Homes who have received ‘Overall Outstanding’ from the Care Quality Commission

  • Three of our Homes hold the Eden Alternative UK & Ireland Certificate of Recognition and feature on the Eden Alternative register of Homes
  • Our Activities Team at Parkwood House in Plymouth is award winning, they won the Best Activity Coordinators Award at the Celebrating Excellence in Care Awards 2017. They have been recognised for the innovative and meaningful activities that they provide for our residents at Parkwood
  • Sefton Hall holds the Butterfly Kitemark National Award from Dementia Care Matters. The Butterfly Model is based on how ‘feelings matter most’ in dementia care. We are very proud of this award and the team has worked very hard to achieve this. . Our current vacancies are listed below, however, if we are not currently recruiting, we would love to hear from you so that we can keep you on record for when a vacancy does arise.

Apply now

Geoffrey Cox Llb

Geoffrey Cox Llb​

Managing Director


Geoffrey is the Managing Director of Southern Healthcare (Wessex Limited), which he founded in 2001. He is justly proud of the company’s portfolio of four highly rated and individual homes, which he runs with the help of his outstanding team.

The Old Rectory, Sefton Hall, Parkwood House, and the Seaton, were all classed as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission following Inspections in 2017-2019, with Sefton Hall re rated Outstanding, and the Old Rectory Good Overall and Outstanding in Responsive Care, in 2020. Sefton Hall and the Old Rectory also hold the Dementia Care Matters ‘Butterfly’ Mark for excellence in Dementia care.

The Homes have attained a number of regional and national awards including Care Home of the Year 2019 at Sefton Hall.

Prior to a career in residential care, Geoffrey was a practising Solicitor for 25 years. He is married to Margot, a qualified nurse, who has a key role as Director of Nursing and Compliance with Southern Healthcare.

Geoffrey completed a Master’s degree in Dementia Studies at Stirling University in 2013. Passionate about all aspects of care, he is a member of several groups representing providers, including the Devon Care Collaborative

The group exists to share and promote best practice and run management and leadership training and seminars.

Its members undertake inter-home ‘peer reviews’ to share, discuss and develop best practice. Of circa 240 Homes, Devon has around 33 Outstanding Care Homes, the highest ratio in England.

The shared vision of the collaborative, through its various endeavours has made a recognisable difference to residents’ quality of life in its member homes and this work has been growing steadily in scale and impact.

In addition, all four of Southern Healthcare’s homes are accredited members of the Eden Alternative.UK, Geoffrey and his wife Margot, are enthusiastic trainers and board members of this international, not for profit initiative, developed to eradicate loneliness, helplessness and boredom in care settings. The movement trains and promotes wellbeing in staff, residents and families, takes a strong anti-ageist stance and promotes empowerment, inclusion and effective leadership.

In his spare time, Geoffrey enjoys sailing and music – and regularly performs to residents with the Southern Healthcare Quintet.

Margot Whittaker RGN

Margot Whittaker



Margot Whittaker (RGN; Bsc and Diploma of Professional Studies in Nursing, Master NLP Practitioner); is Southern Healthcare’s Director of Nursing and Compliance. She is married to the managing director of the company, Geoffrey Cox.

Margot has worked with Southern Healthcare for the past eighteen years in a nursing career spanning four decades.

She is also a founder member of the Devon Kite Group, now the successful Devon Care Homes Collaborative.

Through the years, Margot has been heavily involved in ensuring and supporting excellence in care home management and compliance to meet the continual challenges of the Care Quality Commission regulations and expectations. She is devoted to raising standards in nursing care within nursing homes.

Margot is currently developing an Adult Social Care Nurse Foundation Programme with the support of local colleges and universities. This unique scheme will involve training and support through a specific set of competencies needed to fulfil the increasingly complex role of nurses working in care homes.

Outside of her main role, Margot has a deep interest in animal psychologies and uses this to enable her to connect more with her dogs and riding horses. She also takes delight in her miniature horse stud at her Devon farm and the animals have been touring the homes to give some much-appreciated, soothing equine therapy.

Emma Seal RGN

Emma Seal RGN



Emma has had a nursing career stretching over thirty years – with two decades spent in elderly care. She has been the manager of The Seaton for eight years.

The Seaton is proud of the strong connection it has to the local community and Emma and her team work hard to maintain that relationship.

Another priority is that ensuring the residents at The Seaton always feel at home, loved and among friends – and that warm welcome is always extended to family and friends.

Outside of work, Emma is a big Exeter Chiefs fan. She also enjoys family life, travelling to unfamiliar places and reading a variety of literature.

Gabriela (Mimi) Ogreanu

Gabriela Ogreanu



Gabriela trained as a nurse in her native Romania before coming to the UK in 2007.

She began her career with Southern Healthcare as a care assistant at Parkwood. Gabriela realised that she wanted a change of direction – away from nursing and into management, where she felt she could work for lasting change.

Gabriela became the manager of Sefton Hall in 2015 and has led the team there to excellence across all fields.

Since she took the helm, the home has twice been awarded Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission and has won numerous awards.

Gabriela says Sefton Hall’s happy atmosphere and great reputation is down to teamwork – and a strong belief in creating a stimulating environment where residents can enjoy a rich life.

An early bird, Gabriela is often in her office before 7am- and her door is always open to her colleagues. She works hard to care for everyone who lives at Sefton Hall and to nurture close relationships with their families and friends.

Married with a grown-up daughter, Gabriela likes to put passion into everything she does – from inspiring her team to pursuing her many hobbies, which include tapestry, adventurous travel, (including a month’s backpacking in China), and cooking.

Lorna Smith

Lorna Smith



Lorna’s career at Parkwood has spanned an impressive thirty years – starting at the tender age of seventeen and working her way up from carer to registered manager.

Before joining Southern Healthcare, Lorna had a Saturday job in a vets – and her continuing love of animals influences her working life to this day. All manner of animals can be found at Parkwood – from a tortoise and chickens to visiting bearded dragons. Lorna also has a labradoodle called Ruby, who comes into work with her every day – and is adored by everyone at the home.

Lorna believes it is a privilege for people to choose Parkwood as a home for themselves or for a relative. She leads a team dedicated to creating a warm, homely atmosphere with strong links to the city of Plymouth, with its community spirit and proud naval history.

On her days off, Lorna loves relaxing with a drink while watching Murder She Wrote. She also enjoys walking on Dartmoor with her family and beloved Ruby and venturing further afield to ski down some of Europe’s most breathtaking mountains.

Kerry Dempsey

Kerry Dempsey



Kerry Dempsey joined us in March 2020 and has taken on the role of home manager and group clinical lead at the Old Rectory Nursing Home and the Southern Healthcare group.

She is a Registered Mental Health Nurse and has worked in both the NHS and social care sector for the past 30 years. She has experience in managing hospitals and care homes across the whole of the South West.

Kerry has an extremely positive attitude, and truly wants her residents to live their best, most fulfilled lives while spending their time at The Old Rectory. 

Kerry’s interests include live music (she attends the Isle of Wight Festival every year). She loves football and is a Liverpool supporter. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Kerry has been married to her husband for 26 years and they have two children. She loves spending time with her family and going on long walks with her two dogs, Bailey and Betsy.

Kerry has also been a scout leader since her children were young and has taken on this role with pride, helping and supporting the younger generation in learning life-long skills along the way. 

Alan Hall

Alan Hall


After 22 years’ experience working for firms of chartered accountants, I made the successful move away from public practice in 2002.

I joined Southern Healthcare in March 2010 and am based at the head office in our Dawlish nursing home, Sefton Hall. In no time, I became immensely proud to be working for a company that is so passionate about providing the best possible environment, facilities and quality of life for our residents.

I also feel extremely fortunate to work with such great colleagues and remain in awe of the commitment and warmth shown by our teams.

Southern Healthcare has evolved and grown over the years, and I continue to enjoy the challenges of ensuring that the company is as financially robust as it can be.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and when the weather allows, I love to be outdoors – jogging, walking, or cycling.