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Community hospitals in Argyll and Bute must continue to deliver dementia care services after a review takes place, a health chief has warned.
Day services for people with the condition are under scrutiny as part of budget proposals by the area’s health and social care partnership (HSCP).
The partnership’s integration joint board (IJB) heard last Wednesday, March 27, that dementia services are under review with a view to employing updated practice.
It is estimated the proposed changes will save the HSCP £71,000 a year, with the removal of 1.5 full-time equivalent posts which are vacant.
But Betty Rhodick, a retired care worker and a representative on the IJB, insists community hospitals have a vital role to play in the care of dementia sufferers.
She said: ‘There comes a stage when a dementia patient is not safe and they are causing problems not only to themselves, but to carers and family, and costing the health service more money.
‘We have already lost a community hospital in Argyll and Bute and this is going to come to the stage that community hospitals are going to be drop-in medical services.
‘A lot of people will not have seen a dementia patient – do they know how one acts, even in their own home?
‘I have seen it and lived with it for a couple of years and it was horrendous. I ended up having to get the patient admitted.
‘You can make up as many strategies as you like – people all have individual needs.
‘They will know there is something wrong, but will hide it from their nearest and dearest. It takes a while to get things placed – even in their own home.
‘They are a danger to themselves and it gets to the stage where they don’t care where they are.
‘It needs to be more than just an assessment in their own home, and it is really quite concerning that services may be reduced.
‘Staff who work with these patients can clock off after their shift is finished. Relatives cannot.’
A report circulated in advance of the meeting said: ‘Dementia services in Argyll and Bute are under review with a view to employing updated practice. The day service is not currently being used.
‘It is envisaged that dementia day care is required as part of the wider service provision and will feature in a wider dementia services review in 2019-20.
‘Provision of older people’s day care will be considered within a different model seeking opportunities to work with the independent and third sector services.
‘Development of further services would be undertaken in line with our current engagement strategy.’
HSCP chief officer Joanna MacDonald said: ‘The proposal is for us to look at inpatient services. We know the best place for people with dementia to be is in their own home.
‘Currently, we support hospital mental health services and we need to look at how we build up the expertise in the community with the issues we have.
‘I can understand this being a concern – the national strategy is investing in communities.’
Robin Creelman, outgoing chairman of the IJB, added: ‘To a large degree, this is two sides of the same argument, about a person being in the appropriate place.
‘We certainly don’t want them to be in hospital if they can avoid it. You are both saying more or less the same things.’