Dementia care: day centre closures
Looking after your loved ones in dementia care can be a lonely job that many of us have to undertake. Not everyone can afford round the clock care, a permanent care home and not all of us want to. Caring can be as rewarding as it is challenging. Day centres provide the perfect middle ground for families that need some respite time to themselves, while having comfort that their loved one will be safe and looked after. Unfortunately, this may no longer be an option for carers.
32 respite and day centres closed
Throughout the UK, a staggering number of 32 respite and day centres have been closed in the last three years and 20 of these closures happened only in the last year. These centres were not free, for example, Dudley’s Age UK centres that have all closed due to lack of government funding, cost £30 per day. Yet they provided a vital opportunity for patients in dementia care to socialise and be properly looked after, while relieving some of the pressure from their carers. Now the full responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of their families, many of whom were struggling to cope to begin with.
Devastating impact on the NHS
As a result of day centre closures, the number of elderly people with dementia admitted to the hospital has risen by 35 percent in the last five years. This means an extra 100,000 patients are taken to the hospital via A&E every year, when they could’ve offset the strain on the healthcare service by using a respite centre. Withdrawal of the day centre services is putting a devastating amount of pressure on families and carers, as well as the patients themselves who no longer have anywhere else to turn to. Not only are such decisions irresponsible, they are also short-sighted, simply because hospital beds are estimated to cost twice the amount of those at respite and day centres. Because respite care is short-term, it gives people the chance to have the break they need, without members of their family keeping the beds occupied at all times. Many carers are looking after loved ones unpaid, so having the option of a daycentre can provide some relief for their mental and physical health they desperately need.
Demand keeps growing
The number of patients diagnosed with dementia is expected to rise and services are struggling to keep up with demand to look after our ageing population. This proves how vital day centres and respite facilities are to the communities up and down the country. Additional programmes like ‘Dementia Go’ in Gwynedd, Wales, who have just received a £200,000 funding are vital for providing mentally and physically stimulating activities to people in dementia care and keeping them socially active. If the closure and underfunding of our social and healthcare services keeps increasing, this could have seriously detrimental effects on the patients as well as those who look after them. While the current government has promised to fix the situation, there is a lot of work to be done to improve the quality of life for some of the most vulnerable in our society.