Dementia care ‘nearing crisis’
CARE services for older people and dementia sufferers in Macclesfield are nearing crisis, a charity has warned.
In an exclusive interview with the Express, Madelyn Bridge, Age UK Cheshire East chief executive, said there aren’t enough beds for dementia sufferers in the town.
She said: “The care provision in Macclesfield is almost at crisis point. It is already exceptionally hard for anyone to source affordable, good quality care in the town – there just isn’t adequate capacity – and frequently, dementia sufferers are forced to go to Stockport, Crewe or Stafford to find a bed.”
Cheshire East Council’s Dementia Commissioning Plan proposes to transfer all respite care to the independent sector – meaning it will be provided privately and through voluntary services.
As a result, Hollins View Care Home, the only council-run facility in Macclesfield to offer respite for dementia patients, could close.
But Age UK Cheshire East, which operates from Macclesfield Hospital and provides up-to-date bed availability in residential care facilities across the town, says charities are already stretched trying to support the growing problem of dementia care.
Madelyn Bridge added: “Hollins View currently has 32 beds used for short term respite or emergency cases, and if it closes there will be no provision for those in crisis.”
Under other recommendations in the commissioning plan, which was backed by Cheshire East’s cabinet at a meeting last month, other services including day and home care could also be transferred to the independent sector.
The council says the changes will widen choice and put dementia sufferers and carers in control. But Madelyn says that without the infrastructure to support choice, older people will have none at all. She added: “Lack of residential care home places is also a long term issue and one that is not being addressed by the council’s current plans. The crucial issue remains that there is no capacity in the private sector. And private care costs around 40 per cent more than the rate the council pays so, unless you are very disadvantaged, most people who qualify for this financial support will have to ‘top up’ to get the care they need.
“We are very concerned about the lack of affordable residential care places in our town as our own figures show a steep rise in demand.
“The problem is too large for any one entity to tackle alone, all agencies and care providers need to work together to deliver the solution.”
Cheshire East has an estimated 5,402 residents aged over 65 living with dementia, and it’s predicted that will reach 6,710 by 2020. There are also 4,500 carers who support those with dementia in the borough.
Councillor Janet Clowes, Cheshire East Council cabinet member in charge of health and adult care services, said: “The council’s dementia plan will provide services in the community which provide advice, information and early help so people can be supported in finding the right help in the right place and at the right time.
“The increase in service provision, targeted at people with dementia and their carers, will provide a range of options – some of which have, to date, not been available and to which we aim to add over the coming years.
“The availability of beds within the Macclesfield area is understood and, at this point in time, current availability is lower than usual due to a number of factors. The situation is unusual and is not anticipated to be a long-term problem.
“Some people find themselves, or their families, looking for a carehome bed in a crisis or when leaving hospital. Clearly, this makes it difficult to plan for the preferred home of choice and this does on occasion result in people finding a home outside of their preferred area.
“Going forward, the council wishes to reassure customers and their families that we will not take any decisions to change existing services before a formal consultation has taken place – and, subject to the outcome of the consultation, only when robust alternative provision is in place.”
The council launched a formal consultation over the plans on Monday in which Hollins View service users will be offered one-to-one sessions with social workers and council officers.
●● Hollins View Care Home is the only council-run service to offer respite for dementia patients