Burgess Hill disability centre to close putting 57 jobs at risk

Ernest Kleinwort Court in Burgess Hill. Picture: The Disabilities Trust
Ernest Kleinwort Court in Burgess Hill. Picture: The Disabilities Trust

Ernest Kleinwort Court in Burgess Hill – which provides accommodation and support for people with physical disabilities – is to close this October.

The centre in Oakenfield forms part of the nationwide network of support services provided by The Disabilities Trust.

The closure means 57 staff are being put at risk of redundancy and all 26 people who receive support at the centre are set to move homes during the next three months.

A spokesman said: “The Disabilities Trust has reluctantly decided to close its residential centre for people with physical disabilities at Ernest Kleinwort Court in Oakenfield, Burgess Hill.

“All 26 people who receive support at the centre are set to move to new homes during the next 3 months and 57 staff are being put at risk of redundancy, although the Trust is consulting with them about redeployment opportunities within the wider organisation.

“Residents and their families have been informed, along with the local authorities which fund each individual’s care.”

The closure has been described as a ‘very difficult decision’ by the Trust and came after it concluded that ‘despite the best efforts of staff across the Trust, it was unable to deliver and sustain high quality care and support for the people who live at Ernest Kleinwort Court’.

It also follows an ‘inadequate’ rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) earlier this year and a ‘requires improvement’ rating last year.

A spokesman said: “There have also been longstanding problems recruiting staff to work at the centre which has led to extensive use of agency cover, and this has had an impact on the consistency of care and support that the Trust has been able to provide.

“The centre was originally opened by the then Princess of Wales in 1985 and was named after Ernest Kleinwort of the Kleinwort banking family; The Disabilities Trust has expressed its gratitude to the family’s Charitable Trust for its significant historical and ongoing support to the centre.

“Closure will take place on October 31, and staff will work carefully with everyone living at the service, their relatives and the local authorities which fund the care and support provided, to ensure that the moves to new homes go as safely and smoothly as possible.”

Sarah Clifford, director of transformation, added: “This has been a very difficult decision for the Trust to take and one which we have made with great reluctance.

“Our purpose as a charity and care provider is to offer the best possible support so people can lead the most fulfilling and independent lives they can.

“Despite our continued efforts, we have not been able to sustain high quality care for the residents at Ernest Kleinwort Court and, sadly, we do not believe we will be able to do so in future.

“We have had recurring problems recruiting and this has also affected the consistency of care that we have been able to deliver.

“This is a sensitive time for everyone involved - for residents and their families and for the affected staff but we genuinely feel that this is the responsible and appropriate decision.

“The Trust will provide advice and support to all concerned over the coming months.”

West Sussex County Council, other local authority funders and the CQC have also been informed of the decision.

After the closure, the Ernest Kleinwort Court site will be secured pending a decision about its future, a spokesman added.