HS4LC’s ethical solution to adult care crisis

By January 7, 2017Latest News

HS4LC is pioneering a big idea that may help to ease the crisis in adult care.

Harrogate Skills for Living Centre, HS4LC which looks after 100 adults with learning disabilities, has recently completed the purchase of its second residential care home, both of which had been in failed private sector ownership.

HS4LC has been running its skills training centre for adults with learning disability in North Park Road since 2011. We offer

  • structured adult education courses
  • information, advice and guidance
  • and a year-round support centre where people can learn new skills and take an active part in their local community.

The charity decided it had to act in 2014, when they learned that the business running Brackenley care home in Starbeck had run into difficulties

Some of HS4LC’s clients lived at Brackenley and they faced an uncertain future.

HS4LC chief executive Stephanie Kirkman Meikle takes up the story: “We knew that moving vulnerable people from an environment they feel safe in can be hugely distressing, not only for them but families as well.

“It occurred to us as an organisation that whilst buying the home presented a risk, we, as a charity, would not make profit a principal motivator so we could therefore help.

“With a sound business plan and some hard work and support from a lot of people, we managed to buy the home, keep the vulnerable residents in place and put the business on a sound footing. We have also managed to enhance the lives of the residents by integrating more of them into our education day centre and ensuring that ‘leading fulfilling lives’, should be the driver for the quality of care

“Our staff are focussed on delivering meaningful life skills and residents now enjoy enriched lives as a result of our involvement.  We even raised funds and received grants to build a bespoke sensory studio for autistic residents.”

HS4LC not only helped protect and improve the lives of 13 adults needing care it also safeguarded 23 jobs created  new posts, all receiving above living wage and is providing fully funded apprenticeships in health and social care.

The plan is to reinvest any surplus the business generates into new services such as job opportunities, sheltered workshops and training for the people the charity supports.

Stephanie added that not only residents but staff – many of whom have been with the home for years – parents and families of the residents have had their fear of change removed.

“It has been difficult at times,” added Stephanie, “but the solution has been a bigger success than we could ever have wished for.”

But then came a new challenge. No sooner had Brackenley been successfully taken into the HS4LC fold than it heard of another care home in the town in trouble.

Briardene, near the centre of Harrogate is a big, Victorian treble-fronted building with multiple occupancy as well as 13 residents with learning disabilities. It was in similar financial trouble.

Power To Change“This was a much more complicated purchase,” said Stephanie. “Largely because of complicated property titles. However, we persevered for more than 18 months during which time we we were very successful in obtaining grant assistance from the Big Lottery through Power to Change. Together with an investment  loan from SASC (Social and Sustainable Capital), this enabled us eventually to make Briardene part of our community business this Christmas. A nice present for staff, residents and everyone concerned.

Power to Change supports communities to create businesses led by local people who look after what matters to them. Any profits flow back into the business to deliver positive local impact. A community business is run by and for the local community. It uses its profits to make the local area a better place to live, work and visit. Examples include communities coming together to save local shops from closure; to set up a community hub to provide a place for people to meet and work; or developing a community led housing project to help regenerate a local area.

Social and Sustainable CapitalCould what HS4LC is doing in the beleaguered social adult care sector work elsewhere?

“The model, in our town at this moment, works for us“, said Stephanie. ”But it takes more than hope and wishful thinking to change the way social care is administered at the moment.

“Local authorities and other providers are facing huge pressures because of limited funds, increasing demands and ever-rising costs.

“But what we are doing is one small step in improving the lives of vulnerable people as well as, I think, providing a bit of hope to all of us who have concerns over how we as a society help those less fortunate than ourselves”.

HS4LC’s three centres in Harrogate are run with the clients always at the heart of what it does. But, like most charities and voluntary organisations, HS4LC is always looking for people to get involved.

“We need helpers, teachers, backers, donations, business sponsors – anyone who would like to make the lives of the people we look after and support that little bit better. Please contact us.”