Column: Let’s see what we can do to help

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“A disaster.” “I don’t know how I’ll cope.” “It’s upsetting.”

These are just a selection of the worrying comments I have heard in recent weeks since the announcement of the decision to close the dementia care facilities at Hurlfield View in Sheffield.

The closure has received a lot of coverage and, as the leader of a local charity working with older people, many of whom are living with dementia, I have expressed my concern, too.

There will clearly be an impact on the families involved. Nearly 1.4 million people aged 65 and over provide unpaid care for a partner or family member in England and Wales, but only 77,635 of those receive carer-specific support services.

The cuts that public services in Sheffield have had to make in the last few years have been difficult for the public and for the people who have had to make them.

The decision to close Hurlfield View would not have been taken lightly. I know that nobody puts themselves forward for public service with the intention of closing care facilities.

What I would like to offer those people who have been affected is a little hope.

Age UK Sheffield runs a Wellbeing Centre in Norfolk Park which offers a warm welcome and a safe accessible space for people living with memory loss and dementia, as well as an opportunity to meet people and enjoy hobbies and interests.

Supported by Sheffield City Council, the Wellbeing Centre is a high-quality facility which gets great feedback, providing person-centred activities and independence support, and we have vacancies available. The centre runs Monday to Friday, from 9.30am to 3.30pm. We are happy to offer a free taster session – just contact us on 0114 2502850.

Our Information and Advice service helps older people to claim all the benefits they are entitled to, including Attendance Allowance.

In 2016, we helped older people in Sheffield to claim £2.57 million in additional benefits. Call us if you think you may be entitled to more.

Finally, if there is an unmet need for specialist respite facilities in the city, then I will do what I can to see how Age UK Sheffield can try to meet that need. As a charity, we can apply for capital grants which public services can’t, to fund the start-up costs of such a facility.

So if anyone can give me the evidence to help make the business case for a new older people’s facility in Sheffield, please get in touch and let’s see what we can do.