Residents of a Tooting care home received a visit from the leader of the Labour Party this morning, timed to coincide with the launch of a major report into elderly care reform.

Ed Miliband went to Southern Cross’s Heritage Care Centre in Gearings Close, as the Dilnot commission report was unveiled following days of heated debate about its proposals including a cap on means-tested contributions towards care for the elderly.

Mr Miliband spoke to staff, residents and relatives of those in the home about the reforms, alongside shadow care services minister Emily Thornberry.

He said of the report: "These reforms are too important to kick into the long grass.

"It does not answer all the questions but it is an important step forward.

"I am ready to sit down with David Cameron and Nick Clegg to find a way to make this work. Lets leave our prejudices at the door and find a way forward that all the parties can agree on."

The commission has said those requiring residential care in retirement should not have to spend more than 30 per cent of their assets paying for it.

It also recommends the means-test upper limit should be raised to £100,000 from the current £23,250.

Heritage, which opened in 2002, has 72 residents, who can pay anything from £57-a-week to £950-a-week, depending on their level of care.

The home's manager, Priscilla Chibanda, said of the visit: "It was a privilege to be chosen for Mr Miliband to come and visit us. It meant a lot to the staff, they were very happy and wanted him to stay for longer.

"They were very impressed by his approach and they felt at ease talking to him."

Heritage is owned by Southern Cross, the UK's biggest care home provider, but it is currently in financial difficulties and could face some possible closures in the future.

But Mrs Chibanda is confident the home is safe.

She: "We have got confidence that we are very safe. The problems haven't affected us or our staff and we are still giving the highest quality of care. There is no danger at all."

Sally Hutchings, whose mother Marjorie is at the home, could not speak more highly of the care her mum receives and is hopeful the Heritage stays open for years to come.

She said: "We read the report about the home and found this was the one for mum.

"This is a flagship home and that's because there's a brilliant team. You cannot fault them, they are really hard working.

"But if something happened and we had to find another home, it would be terrible."