Victory For Families Determined To Save HFT Sussex In Walberton After Instructing Lawyers At Irwin Mitchell
Families fighting the proposed closure of a West Sussex care home have welcomed the reversal of the decision following a legal challenge.
Home Farm Trust, which operates the Hft Sussex care home in Walberton, West Sussex announced in a letter on 29 August the intention to close the home, giving residents and families three months’ notice.
Hft said the decision was based on difficulty in attracting staff, with increased costs leaving a funding gap neither Hft nor West Sussex County Council could bridge, making the service not financially viable.
Two families of residents at Walberton instructed specialist public law and human rights lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to challenge the decision. Relatives of Annette Madden said the closure would have proved devastating for both her and the family.
Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell wrote to Hft in October, urging it to reverse the decision to close the care home, or potentially face a judicial review in the High Court, on the grounds there had been no consultation with residents and their families before making the decision which also breaches residents’ rights under the Human Rights Act.
Hft has now reversed its decision, saying the care home will remain open
, while a consultation is held with residents and their families about the future of Hft Sussex.
Expert Opinion“The reversal of the decision to close Hft Sussex is a victory for the residents and their committed families and gives some security to Annette and others ahead of the forthcoming consultation.
“For Annette, together with many other residents, Hft Sussex is their home and this case demonstrates how important it is for the needs and the views of residents to be taken into account. A proper consultation should be undertaken before any major decision that will have a significant impact on the lives of vulnerable people.
“Finding new homes would have proved difficult within the three month timescale given, and Hft’s withdrawal of the decision to close Hft Sussex gives the residents and their families some breathing space.
“There is a clear legal requirement in relation to what steps need to be taken prior to a decision to close a care home. This was not met here. We are pleased that this has been recognised by Hft and that the decision to close has been withdrawn.
“Hft has instead agreed to prepare a consultation and our clients and the other residents are ready to engage with this process.” Emily Church
Annette Madden, 76, has lived at Hft Sussex for 30 years since the home first opened. She has learning difficulties and is supported by her sister, Cecilia Gillington. Annette has complex care needs, which are met at Hft Sussex and both would struggle with the prospect of a move.
lia Gillington said: “Annette, who calls herself ‘Annie’, has lived at Hft Sussex now for 30 years. It’s her home and as with many other residents, she is settled and happy there. Any move would devastate Annette and while we welcome the consultation we’re deeply concerned at the prospect of closure.
“Annette isn’t capable of making complex decisions but with her carer and the wonderful grounds at Walberton, she has found a haven where she feels safe, happy and at peace. To turn her world upside down now, when she couldn’t understand why, would be terrible for her and this decision means we don’t have to face that choice or burden her with such problems, for now.
“Some of the most vulnerable people with learning disabilities have found a home at Hft Sussex and together with their families, we’re determined to do everything we can to be a voice for those who often don’t have one. As Hft have contacted families individually and not met with us collectively, there may be some who don’t realise this campaign to keep the care home open is running. We hope as word spreads, they will join us in securing our loved ones’ futures.”
Some of the families, led by Cecil
lia have now launched a campaign to keep the care home open. Any other families who want more information on the campaign can contact Cecilia at: firstname.lastname@example.org