Dementia care in need of major shake-up, NHS managers say

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A MAJOR restructuring of health services for the elderly is to be discussed by councillors as a report warns of growing pressures due to the ageing population.

Health bosses are warning that changes are needed in the way dementia and mental health care for older people is provided in the Harrogate district at a time when the numbers of elderly in the area – and in turn demand for such services – is predicted to increase significantly.

Harrogate and the rural district has a population of more than 158,000 and 20 per cent are over 65 – compared with the national average of 16 per cent.

It is estimated that this will increase further to 23 per cent in 2020 and 28 per cent in 2030, members of Harrogate Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny commission will be told when it meets on January 8.

They will discuss a report prepared by health bosses which proposes controversial changes to dementia and mental health services for the elderly which will halve hospital beds, with savings used to protect and invest in more services in the community and in homes.

Under the proposals, announced earlier this year which are currently out to public consultation, services will be lost at Alexander House in Knaresborough, which provides care for elderly people suffering from dementia as part of the proposed shake-up.

In 2006, the last time changes were proposed, a petition to save the service was backed by more than 9,000 people.

Coun Don Mackenzie, a member of the council’s overview and scrutiny commission, said: “I am sure that there will be concerns especially in Knaresborough itself.”

But Coun Mackenzie said services would be maintained in Harrogate.

Health bosses say Alexander House and the Rowan Ward at Harrogate District Hospital currently have 32 beds but argue these beds are under-used.

The Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS North Yorkshire and York and Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust are proposing bed numbers are halved to 16 and these would all be provided at the Rowan Ward at Harrogate’s hospital.

Alexander House, which has traditionally provided long term care, will be used as a community resource centre with a memory clinic and other dementia services.

Health bosses say the plan will free-up cash and allow it to bring in service improvements which will ensure early diagnosis and home care for those living with dementia.

A report, prepared by NHS bosses proposing the changes, says: “It is important that we make the best use of our resources to meet the needs of an increasing and ageing population.

“We want to provide services that offer the very best care for older people with mental health problems.

“For many people this will mean providing services which help them stay in their own home for longer, or which maximise independence.

“By saving money on inpatient services we will be able to protect and invest in our community services,” the report to be discussed by members adds.

To plan for future needs, it says it needs to reduce inappropriate admissions to hospital, provide more support for people with dementia and those who care for them in nursing homes and expand memory assessment and treatment services

Around 750,000 people have dementia and numbers will increase significantly in coming decades as the population ages.

People can make their views known in a number of ways by sending their views by email to: nyy-pct.HaRD@nhs.net or completing an online survey at: http://www.harrogateandruraldistrictccg.nhs.uk/HaRD/GettingInvolved.htm or by completing a written survey by calling 01423 859623.