Closing dementia unit ‘should not affect patients’

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PATIENTS, their families and staff are being consulted on plans to close a dementia unit.

The Lowry Centre, in St James’ Hospital, Locksway Road, Portsmouth, hosts dementia sessions five days a week, with 20 places on each one.

Solent NHS Trust runs the older person’s mental health service, which is paid for by the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group.

Commissioners said that due to a decrease in referrals to the unit, and different provisions now being offered in Portsmouth, it plans to close the centre, making a saving of £300,000.

At the moment there are 20 patients registered with the service.

At a Portsmouth City Council health, overview and scrutiny panel meeting, Jackie Charlesworth, deputy head of integrated commissioning for the CCG, said: ‘There’s been a drop in the number of referrals because of changes to the government agenda around dementia.

‘We have held two meetings with families to see what they think of the changes.

‘They really value the service and we know the consultation will be unsuitable.

‘We are not looking to take away a service, but to reprovide it elsewhere.’

Ms Charlesworth said ideas such as the set up of two dementia cafes in the city and the introduction of dementia advisers, means there are alternative resources available.

She said it is thought three patients will be referred to the Royal Albert Centre, Nutfield Place, in Buckland.

Councillors at the meeting were concerned the Royal Albert would not cope with extra patients as last year it was announced patients in The Patey Day Centre would also be moved there.

As reported, the building in Cosham is being demolished in the next two years.

Campaigners have been thrown a lifeline and have four months left to find another organisation that would provide services in the north of the city.

A decision on Lowry is due to be made in May.

Chris Wyatt, south east operations manager for Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘Community services such as dementia cafes and dementia advisers are vital to help people with dementia live full and independent lives.

‘They also provide a lifeline for carers and will undoubtedly be of benefit to people in Portsmouth.

‘With any changes and closures of existing centres, clear communication is paramount to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.’