Dementia centre closure threat

Altham Meadows.
Altham Meadows.

A care centre worker says plans to close the facility will have a devastating effect on dementia patients and their loved ones.

Altham Meadows at Westgate has been earmarked for closure as health bosses look to move Lancashire dementia patients to Blackpool and possibly Blackburn.

The staff member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “It’s upsetting.

“There’s nowhere like Altham Meadows anywhere near here. It’s the relatives I feel sorry for. They will have to travel to visit.

“We don’t have enough beds as it is.

“One of our patients was within a day of being moved to Hull. His wife was suicidal because she knew she wouldn’t be able to see him.

“The mental care sector will be the biggest (health) growth area in the next 20-30 years due to increased drug and alcohol abuse in the young.

“Staff in private sector homes aren’t trained to the same level as us in control and restraint. But these patients are going to have to go somewhere.”

Altham Meadows continuing care centre on Bartholomew Road has 16 beds for elderly people with dementia and advanced care needs.

A public consultation will be held on two options: a single dementia care site in Blackpool costing £4.2m per year, or two sites in Blackpool and Blackburn costing £8m.

The cost of providing beds for dementia patients in Lancashire is currently £8.5m per year.

A survey claims 83% of patients and carers want dementia sufferers to be cared for at home, according to Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust

“Dementia care is a priority area for the trust and its commissioners,” said a spokeswoman for the trust.

“The consultation sets out proposals for people to comment on and serves to ensure that there is consistent service provision for people with dementia and their carers across the county. 

“The trust will ensure that there are a range of options available to all staff affected by the changes and we will be seeking to avoid redundancies wherever possible.”

The consultation period runs until February 25. A public consultation meeting will be held at Lancaster Town Hall on January 18 from 1pm to 3pm.

There are 17,600 people aged 65 and over in Lancashire with dementia, a figure expected to rise to 25,600 by 2025.