Families of residents at a Devon care home have welcomed new plans to tranform the home into a new dementia care Centre of Excellence.
Plans for the first two of Devon County Council's Centres of Excellence, at Mapleton in Newton Abbot and Woodland Vale in Torrington, go on show this week.
Open days at the homes are giving residents, their families, as well as staff and others, the first opportunity to see the plans.
They are the first of up to ten Council homes to be redeveloped over three years in their £11.2 million improvement programme.
The Council’s Cabinet Member for care says the flagship centres, which bring together two of the country’s leading experts on dementia, will enable Devon to be at the forefront of high quality dementia care.
Internationally renowned for dementia research, the University of Stirling is advising the Council on the design of the buildings, while one of the Prime Minister’s Champions on Dementia Friendly Communities, Ian Sherriff, is giving advice as to how the new multi million pound centres will be run.
Mr Sherriff and research colleagues at Plymouth University are making sure that the new centres provide first rate care to residents, and that the Centres support the great many people living with dementia in their surrounding communities, and their carers.
The first two homes were selected for redevelopment after market research identified where demand for dementia care in Devon is greatest and where any appropriate private sector care already exists.
Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for adult care described the plans as an enormous leap forward in terms of design and quality provision. He says: “They will provide high quality homes for people with dementia as well as a range of other services to support people and their carers living within their local community.
“The centres are designed to include the latest technologies, enabling people with dementia to live safely and independently within their own surroundings.
“We’re encouraging dementia friendly communities, and we’d like these centres to become local hubs for these communities.”
At the first of the open days, at Mapleton residential home, residents’ families have welcomed the plans.
Val Richards, whose sister is resident at the home, said: “The plans look really good. It will be a fantastic mix of residential and support for people in the community. The facilities here were already good, but these plans, with larger rooms and ensuite bathrooms, will improve it further.”
Ian McCauley’s mother is a resident. Ian says: “It will be a wonderful facility. Residents will be very happy. I’m especially pleased that they will be able to stay where they are while the work is being done, and that they’ll be in familiar surroundings.”
Norman McNamara, attending today’s open day, is founder of the Torbay Dementia Action Alliance (TDAA). He was diagnosed with dementia five years ago. He says: “The plans are wonderful. They’re designed sensitively for people with dementia. The sizes of the rooms are ideal, and there will be a lot more space than there is currently. It’s so important that designs are done with residents in mind.”
The TDAA was set up to to make Torbay the first dementia-friendly resort in the country. Norman says he’s seen a change in the way that people see dementia over the last three years.
“What Devon County Council is doing is cutting edge. The Council recognises that there will be a signifcant increase in the numbers of people with dementia in Devon, and by developing Centres like these, with facilities and support available to people in the community, they will be helping to remove the stigma of dementia.”
Ian Sherriff, who’s also a Trustee of Alzheimer’s Society nationally and Vice Chairman of the Plymouth Dementia Action Alliance, says: “The Council should be congratulated for taking this innovative approach to meeting the demand for dementia related care. These will ensure that people with dementia and their carers will be provided with excellent care supported by dementia friendly communities, as advocated by the Prime Minister.”
The Council was also applauded for its work on dementia by the former Health Minister Andrew Lansley last year on a visit to the county.
Devon has one of the highest proportions of older people among its population with the number of over 65s with dementia expected to rise from nearly 13,000 in 2011 to over 23,000 by 2030 – a rise of almost 80 per cent.
Current research suggests that Devon has a shortfall in specialist residential places for people with dementia, and the Council’s plans, which will create overall around 300 bed places, will meet about half that unmet need.
The rest, the Council hopes, will be met by the private sector, to which the Council has made £800,000 available this year to help them develop their own dementia-specific care facility.