Last post for valued Sidmouth care centre?

NHS insists Stowford Lodge is still ‘open’

AN ELDERLY carer and her 83-year-old dementia-stricken husband felt ‘forced out’ of an under-threat lifeline for mental health illness sufferers in Sidmouth.

NHS chiefs insist Stowford Lodge is still open – despite claims a valued weekly day care service for patients ‘closed’ last Friday.

A 79-year-old carer, who says the Sedemunda Road hub offered her invaluable respite, claimed she was verbally told last week: ‘If you bring your husband, there will be no-one here to look after him’.

The NHS had written to the couple weeks before telling them Stowford Lodge would close ‘imminently’.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, says she now has to pay for private care.

“I didn’t have any alternative but to look elsewhere,” she told the Herald.

Most Read

“I was trying to hang on in there, but I feel the fight is lost. I’ve got to give in.”

Her husband received day care at Stowford Lodge for the final time last Friday. He’d used the facility for years.

The Herald understands the 83-year-old was one of just a pair of remaining patients.

Devon Partnership NHS Trust bosses are looking to sell the premises - to ‘reinvest’ cash into services - but said yesterday: “The specialist mental health expertise of our community team is always available to help support and advise.”

A working party of town councillors and members of the public was set up in June to look at a long term solution in addressing the needs of 551 people in the Sid Valley who suffer from mental health problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s – the highest number in East Devon.

NHS chiefs promised at a public meeting that Stowford Lodge wouldn’t be closed until a suitable, alternative, location was found and insisted yesterday: “Nothing has changed”.

The spokesperson added: “A very small number of people use the building for social day care services, but we are no longer commissioned to provide these and have been working with the people concerned and their families to find good alternatives.

“We’re currently working with the family of the last remaining user of the social day care service to explore local alternatives.

“We’ve made it clear this person can continue to use the service at Stowford Lodge until a satisfactory alternative can be found and are hopeful of doing this soon.

“We’ll be making our day care support worker available for a few days to help them settle in to their new environment and ensure that their needs are fully understood and met.”