Nursing units facing closure are an oasis for old people - professor

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a RENOWNED dementia expert has backed a campaign to keep two specialist nursing homes threatened with closure open - as consultation enters its final month.

Professor David Jolley presented his findings on Woodland View in Norton and Birch Avenue in Chapeltown to the NHS Sheffield board meeting, describing both as an ‘oasis’ for vulnerable people whose needs may not be met in other care homes.

The primary care trust proposes to withdraw £2.8m of ‘top-up funding’ which would mean the homes - which provide specialist care for up to 100 vulnerable patients, most with dementia - would be forced to close.

A campaign led by relatives of residents received a boost when Prof Jolley, a specialist in old age psychiatry, told board members Sheffield would be losing two excellent dementia care centres.

He said 70 per cent of people living there would be entitled to continuing care grants from the NHS, so the objective of saving money by cutting the top-up fee might not be met.

Instead he put forward the option of allowing the homes to remain open, and incorporating within them a dementia training centre - using their skilled and experienced staff to inform and educate other healthcare workers.

Jane Bishop, whose dad Keith has been a resident at Woodland View for the past year, said campaigners were pleased to hear the board ask for Prof Jolley’s input.

“We took that as a really good sign,” she said.

“If they are serious about getting his help to look into the training centre option, then it must be something they are really considering - not just paying lip service to.

“Professor Jolley described both homes as an oasis, where people felt safe, and for people who may have been failed in other places - and that’s exactly how we feel. The feeling among the group is quite positive - although we know ultimately it is money which is the issue.

“At the end of the day it is a cost and it is a cost the board has to justify.

“But at the same time to us, it’s not just about money - it’s about our relatives and their health and happiness.”

A decision on the homes - which have received support from Sheffield Council - is due at the next board meeting on Tuesday, July 5.