Members of the Lancaster District Pensioners Campaign Group (LDPCG) will be presenting a petition of over 1200 signatures at the next meeting of the Lancashire Care trust demanding that Morecambe's Altham Meadows Dementia Centre remains open, with all 16 beds and the protection of all existing services and staff. They would like as many people as possible to join them.
The venue for the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust board meeting has been changed, and it will now be at Preston Business Centre, Training Room 2, Watling Street Road, Fulwood, Preston PR2 8DY, at 9.00am on 3rd October 2013.
Time is short as, despite local protest and the concerns raised by councillors (see news story), Altham Meadows is due to close in December - before alternative provision is in place near Blackpool.
Camapaigners against the changes argue that moving this vital service to a location that is difficult for users to access endangers the viability of person-centred care, for both the user and those who care for them .
To visit the new service from Lancaster district on public transport would entail travelling on three bus journeys each way - an exhausting or impossible option for many of the frail and elderly clients and their carers - many of whom are their equally elderly spouses. Forcing cognitively vulnerable and often physically frail people into long, stressful and unfamiliar journeys into locations far from home at all times of the year, is clearly an economic and political decision, as anyone with professional experience of this user group can predict its potentially adverse effects.
"This issue is of paramount importance," says LDPCG spokesperson Dilys Greenhalgh, "because it will affect an increasing number of local residents.
A consultation too place earlier in the year by the Trust,
which offered two options for addressing dementia community and
inpatient services. The first proposed a single site in Blackpool with
services. The second suggested two sites in Blackpool and
Blackburn with reduced community services. The prior decision to remove the local service at Altham Meadow for the people in this area who suffer from dementia has not been consulted on. The current estimated dementia prevalence in the Lancaster area is 1985 people.
There are currently 17,607 people aged 65 and over in Lancashire with
dementia and at least 317 people with dementia in Lancashire under the
age of 65. Numbers are expected to increase to 25,611 (by 2025), a
projected increase of nearly 50%.
In the Lancaster area alone, there were an estimated 456 new cases of
dementia in 2012, with 14 admissions to specialist dementia beds.
NHS Lancashire argues evidence shows there is a clear reduction in the need for specialist dementia inpatient beds. We'd like to see that evidence.
• Anyone who would like to support the Lancaster District Pensioners Campaign Group on 3rd October and need or could help with transport, please contact Jean Taylor on 01524 61295