It’s always worth watching how a government acts, rather than just listening to what it says.
The story of Hope House, which Express has been following closely this year, is a prime example.
Just last week, we revealed that the treatment facility for children with mental health problems is to close. According to Childrens’ Services, it is not referring anyone there as it doesn’t cater for children with “the most complex needs.” But about the rest?
As a result, having spent around £250,000, the Charity behind the facility, Silkworth, is shutting it down.
So far, so simple. But then you ask some questions. Scratch the surface.
Silkworth are a very well-established local charity group offering addiction recovery treatment, and they are run by Frank Laine MBE, and Jason Wyse, both of whom are very experienced in what they do. Is it really credible that they didn’t do their market research, and canvas whether there was actually a need for the facility, before investing so much time and money?
They say they did – the Charity argues it consulted senior officials at the outset (in fact, former Government CEO Charlie Parker was so supportive, he made a substantial personal donation) and initially the support was there.
Pictured: Some of the facilities at Hope House.
So, what exactly changed? We don’t know, hence why Express has chosen to highlight this important issue, as it seems to go right to heart of the way health care is going to operate.
As we report today,the Director General of Health Caroline Landon sees exactly how it would fit into the new Jersey Care Model:
"I think hope House was a great facility, I had the pleasure of seeing it and I think it very much had a place within the delivery of island health care but it’s just working through what that place was but from our perspective, it was a great facility with lots and lots of potential."
Well, not anymore. Her view was not shared by the Director General of CYPES, Mark Rogers, who repeated that there was no need for it:
"Most of the need we have in our age of care and children in care population is of a different nature and Hope House was registered with the care commission for a specific programme we would have only needed very infrequently."
Two Directors General, two opposing views on the need for the same facility. Is it any wonder that Silkworth have chosen to close it?
Pictured: the outside of Hope House, and Silkworth CEO, Jason Wyse.
The story of Hope House is a story of a Janus-faced Government saying both “yes” and “no”.
From apparently supporting the facility, to saying there is no need for it, to praising the potential it will have in the future.
Ms Landon speaks very positively about the need for Hope House - but the charity can’t keep it open pending the support it needs from Government actually materialising, particularly when the department directly responsible for mental health in young people, CYPES, is saying the opposite.
It is entirely possible that the private, and charitable, sector will look at the Hope House experience, and be a lot more chary about working with the Government.
And this is at a time when the island is moving to a model which looks to devolve some care away from the centre.
Who – outside of the Government - is going to invest in facilities for the island on that basis?