Specialist centre will be axed in new South Tyneside care shake-up

CLOSING ... Connolly House in Reynolds Avenue, Whiteleas.
CLOSING ... Connolly House in Reynolds Avenue, Whiteleas.

A SPECIALIST centre for dementia set to be axed as part of plans for a new integrated care hub in South Tyneside received a reprieve from closure more than three years ago.

In early 2011, more than 1,300 petitioners backed a campaign to save Connolly House in Whiteleas, South Shields.

At the time it was due to be axed as part of a review of adult social care across the borough.

Council bosses had given the home and others under threat a six-month ‘stay of execution,’ after agreeing to extend a period of consultation until August 2011.

But campaigners were committed to maintaining pressure on South Tyneside Council to keep the highly-regarded care home open.

Members of Friends of Connolly House (FOCH) handed over a 1,007-name petition to Coun Emma Lewell, then-South Tyneside Council’s lead member for independent and healthy lives. And a further 370 names have been collected as part of an online campaign to save Connolly House.

Eventually Connolly House remained open but Beech Street House in Jarrow and Gerald Street House, South Shields, both closed.

Speaking at the time, FOCH spokesman Arthur Pigott told the Gazette: “There is a huge national debate about dementia, but unless families are involved with relatives who have the condition, it’s often difficult to explain the reality of the situation. Connolly House is not just bricks and mortar – it’s a real, caring environment, with highly dedicated staff.”

FOCH drafted a document called The Future of Connolly House, outlining what it claimed could be huge cost-saving measures at the home.

Now the complex is finally set to close after the creation of the new integrated care hub was announced in the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital.