Working party to help sort Sidmouth’s dementia needs

No new respite care at Stowford Lodge, but building won’t close until alternative found promises DPT chief executive

A WORKING party of five town councillors and five members of the public with interests in dementia, has been set up to help solve Sidmouth’s needs in helping those with mental illness problems.

There were some emotional outbursts at Monday’s town council meeting, mostly over the proposed closure of Stowford Lodge for its respite care.

The message, from more than 50 people who filled the Arts Centre, was clear. Respite care is imperative to preserve the health and sanity of carers.

Iain Tulley, chief executive of the Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which owns Stowford Lodge, apologised to carers, representatives of care groups and others, for not meeting with them sooner.

He said: “One of the things that is clear about Stowford Lodge and about services for older people with mental health problems, is we are not very good at engaging with the local public.

“Our Trust has one overarching mission, to provide services good enough for my family. If they are not good enough for my mum, then they are not good enough.”

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He shocked the meeting by explaining that while there are 551 people suffering from dementia in Sidmouth, the amount received for Devon mental health is less than nine percent of the NHS budget, which is over a billion pounds.

“Over the next 10 years it will become an even greater problem. About 90 percent of resources are tied up meeting the needs of 30 percent of the people.”

He said more money was spent on dealing with patients suffering from cancer, heart ailments and diabetes.

He stressed the Trust no longer provided respite care, which is why numbers at Stowford Lodge were dwindling.

John Doe, cares for his wife who has Alzheimer’s. He questioned the reasoning for closing down the purpose-built facility, which had 15 people using it when his wife first went there four years ago.

“Patients are not being referred. I have been looking for somewhere for my wife and there is nowhere. What am I to do?”

Mr Tulley assured the meeting that Stowford Lodge would not be closed until a suitable, alternative location is found to offer assessments, early intervention and therapeutic day treatments (not day care) facilities.

The DPT would, he added, work closely with Devon County Council, NHS Devon and others to back provision of respite.