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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Firm steps in to fill Alzheimer’s care gap in north Cumbria

Families who were left devastated when The Alzheimer’s Society axed key services in north Cumbria have been thrown a lifeline.

A barrage of criticism greeted the decision to cut home support services for dementia sufferers in Carlisle, Eden and Keswick, and day care services at specialist centres in Carlisle, Appleby, Keswick and Penrith.

There were fears that sufferers would be denied further regular contact with highly trained staff who had worked with them for years.

But more than half of the Alzheimer’s Society staff who were being made redundant will be able to continue working with the same clients after a private care company stepped in to take over the home care services.

North East-based 360 Healthcare is to take on 24 of the staff working for the Alzheimer’s Society to continue providing home care for their clients in Carlisle, Penrith, Keswick and Workington.

All are due to switch to their new employer from April 1.

Though nobody has stepped in to take over Alzheimer’s Society day care services, the relatives of sufferers say they are delighted that their loved ones will continue to work with the same carers.

Charlie Birse, 50, whose 81-year-old mother Betty, from Denton Holme in Carlisle, has suffered from dementia for five years, said: “I’ve been told that I probably won’t notice any difference in the service, which is brilliant.

“My mother gets only two hours of home care a week – an hour on a Monday and an hour on a Wednesday.

“But it’s an excellent standard of care, and I don’t think the council could have provided anybody who would take her out and about the way this carer does. I don’t have the specialist training she has, and I have to work shifts, so if it wasn’t for the help my mother gets, she’d be housebound.”

Another of those potentially affected by the cut in services was Lister Hogg, 54, whose mother Mary, 90, has been getting day care for one day a week at Bevereley House in Harraby, as well as three hours of home support every week.

He said Cumbria County Council had offered to replace the lost day care at one of its centres, while his mother’s home care worker would continue to care for her in her new job with 360 Healthcare.

“The care she provides is exceptionally good,” said Mr Hogg, from Wreay, near Carlisle.

“She has always taken my mother out and about, and for trips to cafes, and that will now be able to continue.

“My mother has also been offered an extra day of daycare to cover the one lost from the Alzheimer’s Society.

“I’ve always found the council’s care exceptionally good, and I’ve been meaning to write to the head of Adult Social Care to say how valuable this day care is.

“It means I can go out and get jobs done.”

The private health care provider got involved after being contacted by Angela Rodgers, who was home support manager with the Alzheimer’s Society.

She said 360 Healthcare’s founder, David Johnson, believed that her existing highly skilled teams in Carlisle, Eden and Keswick were second to none in delivering specialist care for dementia sufferers.

At the time it announced the withdrawal of services, The Alzheimer’s Society said it would work with Cumbria County Council to minimise the impact of the changes. The withdrawal of services led to 42 specialist staff being made redundant across Cumbria.

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