FAMILIES battling the "devastating" closure of a care home have won their fight to keep the doors open.

The Disabilities Trust, which operates Hollyrood Care Home, in Lindfield, near Haywards Heath, announced in August that it intended to close the home, which cares for adults with autism, saying the building was no longer fit for purpose.

Two families brought in specialist public law and human rights lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to challenge the decision and have now been successful.

Relatives of Euan Cheeseman and Daniel Spivack said the closure would have proved devastating for them and their families.

Jackie Cheeseman’s son Euan has lived at Hollyrood for six years.

She said: “We were devastated at the sudden, unexpected announcement to close Hollyrood.

"Our son, like others, is a highly complex, vulnerable individual and the wrong home would be catastrophic.

"Euan has made huge progress at Hollyrood, and we want to ensure that he remains content and safe, supported by people who know him well, who respect and value him.

“We now hope that relations between The Disabilities Trust senior management, residents, their families and front line staff can be open and honest with the best interests of residents genuinely coming first. We are very grateful to the team at Irwin Mitchell for securing this for Euan.”

The Argus: Euan CheesemanEuan Cheeseman

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell wrote to The Disabilities Trust in September, urging it to reverse its decision or potentially face a judicial review in the High Court.

After The Disabilities Trust refused to keep Hollyrood open, the legal team filed an application for judicial review in early October to challenge the closure as being unlawful, as they say there had been no consultation with residents and their families before making the decision.

The Disabilities Trust has now performed a U-Turn, saying Hollyrood will remain open and that it will hold a consultation with residents and their families about the future of the care home. An external agency has been appointed to manage the consultation.

The Argus: Daniel SpivackDaniel Spivack

Louisa Spivack’s son, Daniel, 45, has lived at the home for 18 years, she said: “Danny is very happy at Hollyrood and the loss of his home would have affected him badly.

"He cannot communicate and would have great trouble in understanding why he had to leave his home, his friends and the countryside he knows and loves.

"It's a great relief not to have to burden him with these problems.”

Oliver Carter, an expert public law and human rights lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing the families, said: “The news that The Disabilities Trust has reversed its decision to close Hollyrood is a victory for residents and their families and – at least for now – secures the place Euan and Danny have come to know and love as their home.

“This case shows how important it is for the views and needs of residents to be taken fully into account when making such major decisions and highlights the need for a proper consultation process to take place.

"It also underlines the importance of judicial review and legal aid in ensuring that people have effective access to justice.

“Places like Hollyrood are not just facilities and buildings; they are people’s homes, a place of refuge and support and a safe space for people to live full lives where their needs are met."

In a statement, chief executive of The Disabilities Trust Irene Sobowale said the charity stood by its original reasoning for the closure but acknowledged "that the decision has clearly caused a great deal of concern in the families of the people we support at the service".

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