Early closure for Douglas House over staff shortages

Douglas House opened in 2004
Douglas House opened in 2004

Respite care for young adults at Helen and Douglas House is ending today (Thursday, June 21), weeks ahead of schedule due to a lack of staff.

The Oxford hospice announced in January the young adult service at Douglas House would close in August because of a funding shortfall.

But management can no longer guarantee enough staff to provide the quality of care for patients aged between 18-35 after being monitored on a weekly basis.

Chief executive Clare Periton said: “We have a duty of care to our patients and staff and in weighing up the risks of reduced staff capacity we had no alternative but to close the young adult service this week.

“We are truly sorry for the disruption to families who were expecting to stay here next month but we really had no choice.

“When we announced the changes in January we anticipated this might be a risk which is why we advised families in February that all subsequent bookings would be treated as ‘flexibed’ bookings which means they are liable to be cancelled although we took all reasonable measures to avoid this until it became necessary.

“I wish to acknowledge and thank Douglas House staff who have, since the announcement in January, continued to care for young adults in a remarkable way.

“I would also like to thank the families of Douglas House who have been understanding and generous in their support.”

Douglas House patients have been guided towards alternative care providers after the closure wherever possible, the hospice said.

Management will now step up the process of examining how Douglas House’s facilities can be best used in the future.

No decisions have been taken yet about the future of the purpose-built building but discussions are underway with other providers about the opportunity to utilise the facilities.

As announced in January, Helen House will continue to provide specialist palliative care for terminally-ill babies, children and young people aged 0-18.

Ms Periton said: “We are confident that the difficult decisions taken have secured the future of the charity for decades to come but we continue to rely on the generosity of the public to fund the care we give and we are very grateful for their help.”