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Dementia care in the spotlight

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: June 16, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

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A COUNCIL is to investigate hospitals' discharge policies and the future of a purpose built dementia unit in Leek.

The moves comes after a health watchdog warned dementia sufferers are being sent from hospitals to homes without heating or food.

At last week's meeting of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's health and community overview and scrutiny panel, council leader Sybil Ralphs, asked it to investigate all local hospital discharge policies.

She said: "Patient groups say tens of thousands of people are at risk by being sent home too quickly with no amenities.

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"Dementia suffers have been sent home with no heating or food.

"Research has found elderly patients being discharged from wards in the middle of the night, with some hospitals discharging one in 10 patients outside daylight hours in order to free up beds.

"I now wish to ask the panel to look at the hospitals discharge policies in Stoke and the Moorlands as we have a responsibility of care for residents of the Staffordshire Moorlands.

"Dementia is very unkind and in 2014 we would have hoped we had progressed.

"Healthwatch England has now launched the first major inquiry how people are discharge from wards."

Councillor Charlotte Atkins said she shared the concerns over the discharge policy and also that nothing had been done to build a dementia unit in Leek.

No work has yet started on a planned centre at Knivedon Hall at The Mount, in Leek.

She said: "On May 15 I asked a question at a meeting of Staffordshire County Council regarding an agreement signed in March 2010 between the district councillor leader and the county council.

"I asked if the agreement was worth the paper it was written on. Four years on and I have tried to get a response on whether a dementia unit is to be built in Leek.

"I have not had that reassurance, which is a big concern and worrying. We should have a unit in Leek, but not one sod has been dug."

Ms Ralphs said: "The agreement was signed for Kniveden to be the first dementia care centre of excellence for North Staffordshire. I have been told that the problem is finding a suitable developer.

"The people who were interested said Kniveden was too far out of town. I do not accept this.

"This project is not dead in the water, but is taking time."

Councillor Mike Bowen said: "I chaired a group looking into dementia. It was abysmal and the resources were nil.

"Twenty-three million pounds was pushed away to other things. It is vital we sort something out swiftly on these matters.

"People of the Moorlands are being sidetracked again and are being treated like second class citizens."

Councillor Mahfooz Ahmad said the panel needed to visit hospitals.

He said "People are sitting in rooms waiting for hours at main hospitals to be discharged. They have no idea what is happening."

The panel agreed to visit the University Hospital in Stoke unannounced to see the discharge policy in action and also to pursue a dementia centre at the Kniveden Hall.

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