Relatives win fight to keep care homes

Protesters againts the Care home Cuts
Protesters againts the Care home Cuts
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A ROUSING round of applause rang out from an NHS boardroom yesterday as relatives of vulnerable dementia patients who were at risk of losing their homes were told the centres will remain open.

The primary care trust board gave its backing to a proposal to keep Woodland View in Norton and Birch Avenue in Chapeltown open as places providing enhanced care for residents with specialist needs.

It means the current residents will be allowed to remain there - although people in future will have to fit more specific admission criteria to ensure they are at the higher level of need.

The decision comes following a four-month consultation on proposals to withdraw a £2.8 million ‘top up’ to the homes, which health chiefs said did not represent value for money. Although the overall amount of funding provided to the facilities will not now change, the new strategy means cash provided in future will be spent caring only for those with complex needs.

Relatives of residents fought back tears as they expressed their delight at the decision, cheering and clapping from the packed boardroom.

Sue Harding, who has been the spokeswoman for the appeal throughout, said she was ‘elated’.

It means a secure future for her mother Clara Goddard, who has been a resident at Birch Avenue for the past nine years.

She said: “Although we knew this was going to be the option recommended to the board we were still very nervous ahead of the final decision, particularly as there was still a lot of debate and some challenges to the proposal during the meeting. It was an immense surge of relief when they announced they will be kept open.”

Jane Bishop, whose dad Keith has been a resident at Woodland View for the past year, said: “It’s like all the stress has been lifted from our shoulders - we are absolutely delighted.

“This is great news not just for my dad but for the whole of Sheffield. Although the past few months have been hard, I think a lot of good has come out of this consultation because now people know what special places they are. They were described as an ‘oasis’ during the process, and that is exactly what they are. This is wonderful news.”

Simon Kirk, director of strategy at NHS Sheffield, said he was pleased with the outcome of the consultation and that the board had taken on his recommendation.

He said: “In the past, over a number of years, what we had struggled to do was to explain the relationship between the needs of residents and the extra expenditure.

“The consultation exercise has revealed that and the new proposal means admissions decisions will now be taken by design, rather than just by historic accident, to ensure we make the best possible use of the skills, expertise and the physical layout of the homes. Over the coming years this will mean an admissions criteria that ensures these homes are used for people with a higher level of need.”

Coun Clive Skelton, chair of the health overview and scrutiny panel, said Sheffield City Council supported moves to keep the homes open - and put forward a suggestion that they become centres of excellence providing education and training in dementia care to other organisations in the city.

Dementia expert Professor David Jolley, who submitted a report in favour of keeping the homes open as part of the consultation, supported the idea and said: “These places could become essential parts of the dementia care system in Sheffield, providing good models to other people.”

And meeting chairman Tony Pedder said he wanted Sheffield to become ‘the best place in the country’ for dementia care.

Rita Brookes, whose aunt Joyce Wilde is a resident at Woodland View, said it was a wonderful idea, and added: “In our view, this is what they are already doing at Woodland View and Birch Avenue.”