Closing Burgess Hill disability centre is the ‘right decision’

Sarah Clifford, director of transformation at The Disabilities Trust
Sarah Clifford, director of transformation at The Disabilities Trust

Closing a Burgess Hill disability centre is the ‘right decision’ a director has said.

Ernest Kleinwort Court in Oakenfield is to close this October, it was announced yesterday.

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

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

The centre 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.

Sarah Clifford, director of transformation for The Disabilities Trust, had the difficult task of announcing the news to staff and residents yesterday.

She told the Middy that it was a ‘very sad day’. “As a charity we have done the right thing when we have gone from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘inadequate’ in 15 months,” she said.

“We have really struggled to recruit staff. We have had five managers at the centre in two years.

“And it means residents are not getting the quality of care that they deserve. Some residents are happy there but some are not.”

Ms Clifford joined the Trust in 2011 and said the centre had been through difficult times then. “We have had really longstanding issues,” she added.

“It is an incredibly hard decision to make and we made it very reluctantly. We can’t be a charity and care provider if we can’t provide the right care.

“Carrying on is not the ethical thing to do. Recruiting good care staff in this area is really difficult too.

“We have got some fantastic staff at the centre but we have got a lot of vacancies.

“It is difficult to find good staff with the right skills and passion. We want the right people to deliver the right care.”

Ms Clifford said despite pay being increased and a recruitment drive, the centre has not been able to attract new people.

She added that she and other staff ‘stand by the decision’ to close the centre.

The 57 employees who are at risk of redundancy may move to other positions in Sussex, Ms Clifford said.

She added: “They will have that opportunity if they want to. We also run special CV workshops if people can’t stay in the Trust.

“We are going to do all we can. We will be contacting other care providers locally and it is up to the individuals, some might choose to take redundancy.”

Ms Clifford said the Trust will be meeting with each of the 26 people who receive support at the centre over the coming weeks and months to assess where they will move to. It will also be working with West Sussex County Council.

Ms Clifford said she thinks there is a ‘huge financial issue’ in the care sector and that care for working age adults was in a ‘state of flux’.

“Some local authorities are trying to edge down the costs and support for people,” she said.

“The funding problems with the local authority have an impact on people like us.

“We have tried so hard to keep this centre up to standard. But it comes to a point where we have had to say that we are not providing the right care.

“And if you can’t recruit the staff it makes it difficult. We will be supporting the staff and the residents as much as we can over the next few months.”

What do you think about the closure? Email your views to middy.news@jpress.co.uk

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