'Flagship' St Albans rehabilitation hostel to close

PUBLISHED: 07:01 15 January 2011

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FAMILIES with relatives receiving treatment in a "flagship" mental health rehabilitation hostel in St Albans have been told it is closing in March.

A concerned member of the public, who did not wish to be named, said this week that The Causeway in King Harry Lane which provides accommodation for 14 people was earmarked for closure imminently.

He said: “Unfortunately it’s been nailed for closure because of cost-cutting measures. It is definitely going to close. It’s a flagship unit for the Herts Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT). They want to close it down and there is no provision for these clients going out to the community.

“What is going to happen is that clients will be having something similar to care in the community. Family members are upset about it.”

The man said that those staying at the hostel for “anything from a few weeks to a year-and-a-half” received invaluable support at The Causeway, a therapeutic rehabilitation mental health unit managed by HPFT for adults with enduring mental health problems.

He went on: “At the unit they have a lot of very qualified staff so clients have access to professionals 24/7. There are qualified therapists and assistants, all skilled in mental health. The Causeway has been there for at least 10 years. Closure is due to be done by the end of March, but some residents weren’t supposed to be out until summer.

“They [the Trust] think that in the long run putting people back into the community will save money for the NHS. But my belief is that will be a folly because people who go out into the community will have funding allocated to them on an assessment basis to see how much help they need from a qualified person. So that may only buy them a couple of hours service a week and for the rest of the week they will be stuck in [their] house which is not conducive to getting better.”

A spokesman for HPFT neither confirmed nor denied the closure, but said the service was “under review” with its future to be “finalised shortly.”

He explained that a review of health and social care by HPFT was underway in conjunction with the county council and NHS Hertfordshire which commissions and funds services.

He went on: “The review includes consideration of a range of services which provide alternatives to inpatient care and promote independence, both areas that service users have told us they wish to focus on. In light of the review and until any decision is made, new admissions to The Causeway ceased at the end of last year.”

He added: “Current residents of The Causeway continue to have their needs met and residential contracts honoured.”

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