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Review of care for elderly

PUBLISHED: 07:21 30 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:34 07 July 2010

Controversial plans to shake up care for the elderly in Norfolk are to be put under the microscope following a backlash against the changes.

Norfolk County Council proposing an overhaul to council run day centres as part of a shift towards specialist units to care for people with dementia.

Controversial plans to shake up care for the elderly in Norfolk are to be put under the microscope following a backlash against the changes.

Norfolk County Council proposing an overhaul to council run day centres as part of a shift towards specialist units to care for people with dementia.

But the changes have sparked anger because of plans to close three day centres - The Silver Rooms and Essex Rooms, both in Norwich, and Hempnall Mill in South Norfolk.

County Hall, which estimates that it spends around £21.5m on specialist dementia care home placements, believes the changes are needed to cope with the rising numbers of people with dementia, which is set to rise by 62pc to 20,312 by 2025

The changes form part of Living Well with Dementia a new joint strategy between the council and the NHS, which is currently out to public consultation.

But now two council committees are each to look at the proposals.

The cabinet scrutiny committee wants to see if there is sufficient capacity to cope with the rise in numbers of people needing both day and residential care and whether staff are adequately trained to care for people with dementia in both council-run, independent, and voluntary sector homes.

The scrutiny committee, which is keen to produce its report by January 19, agreed to look at the issue last month “as a matter of urgency” after the council announced its closure plans. Councillors were also concerned about about the quality of dementia care homes nationally after the issue was raised in a recent BBC programme by businessman Gerry Robinson.

Conservative councillor Cliff Jordan said there were questions about how the strategy would fit in with social care across the board.

“The perception is that dementia is taking all the money away,” he said. “The majority of elderly people don't have dementia and they need to mix with their own peers, but it's how we go about providing that.”

Meanwhile, in a separate move, members of the council's adult social services overview and scrutiny committee will be asked to give their views on the draft strategy at a meeting on January 5.

Members will also hear how this lack of diagnosis has had a negative impact on many people with dementia and their carers because they do not receive appropriate support and the draft strategy sets out a number of priorities including:

·early diagnosis and support, such as information and treatment in primary care;

raising awareness and understanding among professionals working with older people and the public to encourage earlier diagnosis;

providing support and breaks for carers;

improving the quality of care for people with dementia living in care homes;

improved quality of care for people in general hospitals

David Harwood, cabinet member for adult social services, said the council had been working hard with health colleagues to meet the challenges presented by the increased numbers.

“Our long-term dementia strategy for Norfolk aims to improve the quality of life of not only the individual, but also the friends and family who care so tirelessly for them,” Mr Harwood said.

Members of the adult social services overview and scrutiny committee will also be updated on a “integrated care” scheme pilot based on closer working between social workers, health staff and GPs.

Norfolk's pilot was one of 16 successful bids to take part in a national pilot of integrated care sponsored by the Department of Health (DoH).

The scheme was run in Swaffham and Downham Market; Dereham, North Elmham, Watton and Mattishall; Norwich; Fakenham, Wells and Holt; and Thetford.

The results are still to be fully assessed by the DoH, but in North Elmham early signs suggest there was a 17.6pc drop in emergency hospital admissions and net savings of at least £30,000.

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