D-day looms for £9m South Tyneside dementia care hub

SET FOR GO-AHEAD ... an artist's impression of the planned �9m care hub for people with dementia, to be sited at South Tyneside District Hospital.
SET FOR GO-AHEAD ... an artist's impression of the planned �9m care hub for people with dementia, to be sited at South Tyneside District Hospital.

D-DAY is looming for a £9m care hub for people with dementia in South Tyneside.

South Tyneside Council’s planning committee will meet on Monday to decide on giving the go-ahead to a new integrated care services hub at South Tyneside District Hospital.

The new building, which is being planned by South Tyneside NHS foundation Trust, would house a range of health and social care services and provide support to older people, their families and their carers.

One in every 80 people in the borough now has a form of dementia and the new hub is a part of the council’s response to an ageing population.

There are about 1,700 new cases of dementia in South Tyneside, Gateshead and Sunderland each year and it is estimated this figure will rise by 30 to 40 per cent over the next 15 years

However, the arrival of the new complex is set to mean the closure of council-run Connolly House, a specialist dementia centre, in Reynolds Avenue, Whiteleas, South Shields.

Jeff Finnon, a member of the Friends of Connolly House, has claimed the home had been deliberately “run down,” to make way for the new health hub at the hospital.

Supporters of the 30-bed home say emergency admissions and respite care have been steadily removed in recent years.

Staff at Perth Green House in Jarrow – which is also to close – will be transferred to the new facility at the district hospital.

Staff at Connolly House have received no such assurance – with posts being shed through voluntary redundancies and early retirements.

Mr Finnon said: “We feel as though we have been kept in the dark throughout this whole process. We were told that the Friends would receive full updates every three months, but this has not been the case.

“In the last few days an independent social worker has been in assessing people and a number of residents have now been deemed eligible for a nursing home.

“The people are in their nineties. Such moves could end up killing them. These are the most vulnerable members of society and we need to stand up for them.”

Councillors will hear that the hub’s application includes space for 80 beds, with about 30 older people living on the site and others accessing beds for short respite breaks to support their carers.

Coun Mary Butler, lead member for adult social care and support services at South Tyneside Council, said: “We know that, in line with the rest of the UK, we will see increasing numbers of older people living longer in the borough.

“The hub is a reflection of our commitment to fully play our part in delivering the very best support for older people to enable them to have the best quality of life possible and to make choices about what they feel is best for them.”

The Trust aims to start construction work in early 2015 and to open the hub in early 2016 if the plans go ahead.

To view the planning reports, visit www.southtyneside.info/article/9015/Search-planning-applications and search under reference numbers STO98614FUL

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