Health centres given a lifeline

Residents from Woodland View and Birch Avenue nursing homes protest along with their relatives about the potential closure of the specialist facilities.
Residents from Woodland View and Birch Avenue nursing homes protest along with their relatives about the potential closure of the specialist facilities.
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Campaigners fighting to save two specialist dementia nursing homes from closure have received a welcome boost ahead of a final decision next week - with news that a top health chief is set to recommend the facilities stay open.

Members of the Save My Home campaign, set up to fight the proposals concerning Woodland View care home in Norton and Birch Avenue in Chapeltown, are over the moon with the recommendation from Simon Kirk, director of strategy at NHS Sheffield.

Four months ago the primary care trust began a consultation exercise on the plans which centred on withdrawing £2.8 million in ‘top-up’ funding to the two care homes. Health chiefs had argued the services did not provide value for money when compared to other homes across the city.

But now Mr Kirk is set to recommend the top-up is re-commissioned - with the condition that the two homes became ‘centres of excellence’ for people with dementia who have complex care needs.

If the recommendation is approved, it would allow the current 100 residents to stay in the homes, at the same time as providing two specialist facilities - staffed by experienced professionals - for the future. The final decision will be made at the next meeting of the NHS Sheffield board, on Tuesday.

Sue Harding, who has been one of the leaders in the fight against the closures, said she was thrilled with the news. She told The Star: “If that is the way it works out we would be absolutely delighted.

“We feel grateful the PCT have listened and that the consultation has worked. Although I was perhaps initially sceptical about the effectiveness of such an exercise, this has proved it can work.

“It has been a very unsettling few months for the relatives of residents who have been very worried about what might happen to their loved ones if the homes were to close.

“We are delighted with this news and if it does go this way at the meeting on Tuesday then there will be some incredibly happy people in that boardroom.”

Jane Bishop, whose dad Keith has been at Woodland View for the past year, said she was thrilled to hear Mr Kirk’s recommendation.

“I think it is positive news, not just for my dad and the other residents, but for the whole of the population of Sheffield,” she said.

“We know the staff there are fabulous and we recognise the specialist care they can give and it’s great the PCT has recognised that”

Mr Kirk said there would be four other options on the table on Tuesday, but this was the favoured one.

He added: “The consultation we have undertaken around Birch Avenue and Woodland View has been very thorough, and has included collecting views from residents, families, staff, and the wider public.

“We also undertook assessments of the residents and the homes, and received independent advice from a national dementia care expert, Professor David Jolley.

“As the paper explains, the £2.8m ‘top-up’ funding that we have been paying to Birch Avenue and Woodland View does not represent value for money for the taxpayer and is a system that is unfair to other residents in other care homes across the city who do not benefit from similar funds.

“However, because of the consultation we are confident that re-commissioning an enhanced care service from the homes will provide a model that can work now and in the future.”