‘Town can lead the way for the whole country to follow,’ says Sidmouth Hospiscare CEO
- Credit: Archant
Sidmouth’s ageing population is nearly a century ahead of the rest of the country and service provision needs to keep pace with demand, according to a charity chief.
Sidmouth Hospiscare CEO Dr Gill Ryall wants to future-proof the charity by doubling nurse numbers and increasing support for all adults suffering with life-limiting illnesses and their families in the Sid Valley.
In doing so, she says the town can ‘lead the way for the rest of the country to follow’.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show over-85s make up 2.6 per cent of England’s population. In Sidmouth, the proportion is 11.3 per cent - more than four times the national average - and the rest of the country won’t catch up until 2110.
Dr Ryall said: “Sidmouth is at the forefront of all of this, we’re leading the way in the whole of the UK. The figures show that Sidmouth is almost a century ahead of the England average in terms of population aged 85 and over. “If we can get it right in Sidmouth, we’re leading the way for the whole country to follow.
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“We have a very high proportion of very lonely old people and we have the highest estimated percentage with dementia, but we don’t just deal with the elderly, we deal with any adults.”
Demand is set to rise due to an ageing population, pressure on community hospital beds and more patients wanting to remain in their own homes. To combat this, Dr Ryall said the charity is currently looking at providing support for local care homes, extending its volunteer services and work within the community to run services not currently available, such as counselling.
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The additional services would run from the charity’s newly purchased base at the old Sidford Surgery, where it hopes to create a day centre offering respite, complementary therapies, counselling and education services.
Dr Ryall said: “We need to future-proof this and think about what we need in five years, 10 years, even beyond.
“Everybody recognises that we all have a role to play in supporting each other in times of crisis or loss.
“People are ready, willing and confident to have conversations about living and dying well and to support each other in emotional and physical ways. All parts of the community working together.”