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"Heartbroken": Families express concerns at Devon County Council home closure risk

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: March 02, 2014

  • Families of residents at Devon County Council run residential home for people with dementia say they are "heartbroken" it could close

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The families of residents at a Devon County Council-run care home for people with dementia in Exmouth, say they are beset with worry about their loved-ones should the home close under stringent budget cut proposals.

Last month the county council announced its intention to cease providing residential care services at its care homes, and instead to purchase care in the private sector, becoming the commissioner of care, rather than the provider of care services.

As part of the review council officials revealed that plans to make Davey Court in Exmouth one of 10 Centres of Excellence for the care of people with dementia were “regretfully” to be scrapped threatening the future of the home.

The Echo has already reported on the concerns of a former Davey Court manager Christine Cheshire, who warned that in addition to there being a shortage of beds available at other care homes in the town, the majority of other homes only take residents with mild to moderate dementia so residents could struggle to find an equivalent level of care.

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Now, the daughters of two elderly women at the home have explained they they’re having sleepless nights they’re so worried about the future of the home.

Trisha Smethurst’s 87-year-old mother has been at Davey Court since November. Her sister’s mother-in-law is also there.

She described having to move her mum, who had recently lost her husband after 70 years of marriage and brought up 11 children and has 58 grandchildren, into a home, as “heartbreaking”. But she said the transition was softened thanks to the kindness and excellent care of the staff.

“It’s very hard to come to terms with having to put your mum or dad into a home,” she said. “It broke our hearts to leave her. But she’s so happy at Davey Court, she calls it home.

“But that could be taken away from her now.”

Trisha described the upheaval her mum and her family faces as “unfair”.

“We can relax knowing that she’s safe and happy,” she continued.

“We’re so worried that she could be moved further afield and the upset this could cause her. She looks forward to us visiting. But we all work, so may not be able to see her as much.”

Sandy Monmouth’s 94-year-old mother-in-law Lily has been a resident at Davey Court for two years, after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia.

Sandy and her husband visited several private and council run homes in the Exmouth area and said they settled on Davey Court because of its “warmth”.

“It has such a homely feel, with lovely staff who are very friendly and welcoming and who have lots of interaction with the residents,” she said. “It was like moving Lily from her home into another home.

“People with dementia don’t like change,” Sandy continued. “They need continuity of care. You could say they’ll adjust in time, but there is a lack of dementia-specific care in Exmouth, we found this when we were looking for Lily.”

She added: “Here, we can see Lily everyday if we want – seeing her family regularly is so important for her whole well being.

“But now, we don’t know where we could be travelling.

“It’s so frustrating and upsetting that people’s well being is up against the pound.”

The council has already saved £100m over the last four years and must save a further £110m by 2017 due to cuts in grants from the Government.

A council spokesperson confirmed that no decision had been made yet and any changes would not affect people’s eligibility for care.

To contribute to the consultation visit http://new.devon. gov.uk/residentialreview

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