Bute care model ‘not working for dementia patients’

THE NHS’s new community-based model of care for Bute is not working for people with dementia and their carers, a meeting on the island has heard.

A public question-and-answer session at Rothesay Pavilion was devoted almost entirely to concerns from members of the public that the move towards caring for people in their own homes may not always be the best solution for those living with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The ‘question time’ followed a committee meeting of the Argyll and Bute Community Health Partnership (CHP), which is part of NHS Highland and manages health services in the Argyll and Bute area.

Local SNP councillor Isobel Strong told members of the committee that the lack of care facilities on Bute for people with dementia was causing severe distress to families on the island.

“Some people with dementia cannot be discharged home from hospital due to their complex needs,” she said, “but there is nowhere on the island they can be cared for.

“At the moment, people with these needs are being sent to facilities in the Inverclyde area or in Dunoon.

“What plans does the CHP have to make arrangements for these people to be cared for on Bute?”

Derek Leslie, the CHP’s general manager, said the subject of proper care provision was “a partnership issue” between the CHP and Argyll and Bute Council, but that the CHP was looking at ways of providing better care for people on Bute at home or “closer to their own homes”.

Councillor Strong pointed out that there were no nursing homes on Bute capable of caring for people with dementia, and that while there had been a favourable local reaction to plans for a care home with a dedicated dementia care facility in Ascog, neither the council nor the NHS had made a commitment to being the ‘end user’ of the proposed facility.

Pat Tyrrell, the CHP’s lead nurse, said £400,000 was being directed towards better support for carers of those with dementia, and that the organisation was working with Alzheimer Scotland to build up specialist dementia support teams throughout Argyll and Bute.

But those responses failed to cut much ice with the members of the public present, who complained that ‘care in the community’ was too often being left to kind-hearted neighbours, and that the long term care facilities at the Victoria Annexe in Rothesay should not have been closed before appropriate community facilities were put in place.

Ellen Cromack from Kilchattan Bay said: “The whole town thought the Ascog care home was going to be the answer.

“Of course people want to be cared for at home if they can, but there are quite a few people for whom it’s just not on.

“I know you’re doing the best you can, but that’s how it is on the island at the moment.”

Mr Leslie promised to look into the individual circumstances of each case raised during the session, and acknowledged: “There are individual issues here that we need to take away from this meeting, although there are other examples where the care being provided is of a very good standard.

“But we do need to look at the circumstances of these individual cases, address the frailties in the new care model and look at where we can learn from them.”

* Meanwhile, the changing face of care provision for Argyll and Bute’s older residents will be the subject of a public event in Rothesay next month called Reshaping Care for Older People.

Running at Rothesay Pavilion from 10am-12.30pm and from 1.30-4pm, the event will give members of the public the chance to meet staff from the NHS, Argyll and Bute Council and Scottish Care, which represents the country’s independent care sector, and find out more about the move towards more community-based care facilities.

Similar events will be held throughout May in Dunoon, Lochgilphead, Campbeltown, Oban, Bowmore, Craignure and Helensburgh.