During the year, we expanded and enhanced a number of services including the building of a new sports and assembly hall and extra classrooms at Heathermount School, doubled the size of our long-term brain injury unit at Osman House near Leeds, took over community-based services in Brighton and Glasgow and extended our prison and probation support for people with a brain injury.
Investment in repair and renewal of buildings and facilities, and in vital Information and Communication Technology infrastructure, totalled £2.1m. The Trust made the difficult decision to close its residential services at Hamilton Lodge in Essex and Chalkdown House in Wiltshire.
The current challenging operating environment continues and as a result our operating surplus for the year declined from £0.5m to £0.1m. When we include non-operating items, our overall surplus for the year was £4.4m compared to £3.1m for the prior year.
"Although the external funding challenges we're facing have had a significant impact on our income and financial performance, and will continue to do so, I'm proud that we have made a real difference to the lives of so many people during this past year.
"The Disabilities Trust has also had to make some difficult decisions, including the closure of two of our centres. We did this with great reluctance, but as a charity we have to put the well-being and welfare of those we support first, and ensure a sustainable future for the organisation.
"There remains a lack of understanding from the politicians and policymakers about the cumulative impact their decisions are having on the care sector, and on the cost of funding high quality support for vulnerable adults. The Government, regulators, funders and the public should be concerned about the gulf that is opening up between the cost of delivering high quality care and the amount funders are prepared to pay.
"This has not diverted us from our charitable mission: we remain committed to providing high quality care and support. We've been a charity for 37 years and have overcome external financial challenges before and due to our flexibility, resilience and professionalism, and we will overcome them again.
"Chairing this inspiring organisation has been one of the most fulfilling roles of my career, and, as I step down from the role, I look forward to following the future work of the Trust as it continues to make a difference to so many people's lives."
The Disabilities Trust is a national charity providing services to people with complex and challenging needs, from brain injury to learning and physical disabilities and autism. The wellbeing of those we support is at the heart of everything we do.
How is our work funded?
Our services are funded largely by the NHS and by local authorities, which means we're effectively a business-to-business operation. Any surplus we make is reinvested in new services. We undertake some fundraising but this is less than 1% of our turnover and is an area we are looking to develop.
Who monitors us?
Our Trustees, who give their time voluntarily, review our aims and objectives annually to ensure we remain focused. They look at what we've achieved, how successful we've been, and how our projects have benefitted those we seek to help.
A specially-designed 'Governance Framework' helps us analyse information better about how our services are delivered, so we can make changes where necessary.
Despite testing times, we've continued to invest in services, improve facilities and extend new opportunities to those with disabilities. Our 1,800 dedicated staff gave care and support to almost 1,000 different service users during the past year, helping those based at home, in residential care and in the community. We also:
The direction we take in the next few years will seek to address the significant challenges that exist in health and social care, and will be affected by the following factors:
Our top priorities for the next five years are based on four key themes. This will ensure we are ready for change, financially secure and can keep providing a first-class service for the people who need us, those who fund us, and for our staff.
1. We will establish firm financial foundations by revising what we deliver, investing in our staff and ensuring we have a sound infrastructure.
2. We will be at the leading edge, drawing on our innovative thinking, investing in technology and using research to find new ways for people with complex needs.
3. We will raise our profile as a charity, potentially increasing fundraising, so we can improve our services even further.
4. We will keep our working practices and values updated and increase staff development opportunities.
Projects we are already working on include:
Thank you to all our amazing donors – find out how you can support the Trust and help us change even more lives
The current challenging operating environment continues and, as a result, our operating surplus for the 2016/17 financial year declined from £0.5m to £0.1m, on an operating income of £56.3 million. However, when we include non-operating items, as set out below, our overall surplus for the year was £4.4m compared to £3.1m for the prior year. This means the Trust has sufficient reserves to keep investing in both current services and any new services identified for the foreseeable future.
A message from Irene Sobowale, Chief Executive
As the Chairman has indicated, the operating environment continued to be highly challenging. The impact on the Trust has been significant and there is no doubt that these difficult times will persist for some time to come. However, there are also opportunities for the Trust. Our five-year strategic plan captures these and sets a clear direction for the future.
Although our 2016/17 surplus (excluding non-operating items and investment income) is down by £0.4m to £0.1m, we've continued to invest in services to improve facilities and develop opportunities for those we support, thanks to the reserves built up over the years.
With more than 90% of Trust services rated 'good' or higher by the Care Quality Commission (or its equivalent in Wales and Scotland) it is clear we are already delivering high quality services, and we want to build on this success.
There has been significant progress on our investment plan relating to our properties, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and management of risk to ensure our foundations are secure for the future.
The decision to close Hamilton Lodge was taken very reluctantly but everyone we supported there has moved to a new home. We also closed our brain injury hospital in Swindon, and with regret agreed to the transfer of our only post-acute brain injury centre at Goole to the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, after they decided to end our partnership.
Our staff remain the Trust’s most valuable asset and as we continue to deliver our charitable mission, we will carry on investing in their training and development. I would like to thank each and every one for their continuing commitment to the Trust and to the people we support.
I want to express my gratitude to Peter Jackson for his unstinting loyalty, enthusiasm, guidance and commitment to the Trust over the past ten years, and wish him the very best for the future. Peter – we couldn’t have done it without you! I also warmly welcome our new Chairman Steve Howell, who was appointed on 20 November 2017.