Dementia services in Wetherby ‘not sufficient’ says councillor

Dementia patient.
Dementia patient.

A lack of services for people with dementia has been raised as a prime concern by a local councillor.

Wetherby Coun Alan Lamb (Con) told the Wetherby News that residents in the town are not getting the same level of service as those living a few miles away in North Yorkshire.

To deliver an effective service in Wetherby, he said, there needs to be much more joined-up working between Leeds City Council (LCC) and the NHS.

“I know from personal experience that dementia is a truly dreadful disease and those suffering from it and those who act as carers deserve as much support as possible,” he said.

“We have some excellent local groups such as Wetherby in Support of the Elderly (WiSE), who do fantastic work, but I am concerned that the offer in Wetherby from LCC is not sufficient and in some cases can amount to minimal contact once every few weeks with little support for carers.

“It is vitally important that services in Leeds are brought up to standard and that the NHS and the council work closely to offer the kind of service you would expect to those suffering in such difficult circumstances.

“I will continue to look into this to ensure Wetherby gets a better deal in the future.”

The necessity for increased and better dementia services was recently raised by Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke (Con) who is working to make the area dementia-friendly to help alleviate what he said looks set to ‘have an impact on the lives of everyone’.

Private dementia day centre provider Over the Rainbow Care is set to open a centre in Wetherby this week.

While an improvement on what is currently available, Neil Bellamy, project manager of WiSE, which is funded by LCC, said services in the area are relatively poor.

He said: “There is a need for more services in this part of the world for sure.

“We have only got two nursing homes in the Wetherby area, one of which is closing, and services aren’t being lined up to replace them.

“It is difficult in this part of the world. We do our best as an organisation with our memory cafes and befriending service but at the same time we have got to appreciate other services are under great stress because of financial implications because of cutting back on staff.

“Numbers are increasing of people with memory loss, diagnosis is a lot quicker, and the support for carers is not necessarily there.

“Services could be better. It would be nice if there was something in the pipeline for the future and I am not sure if there is.

“People are very keen and interested, it is just the resources.”

LCC is working with the NHS to reduce waiting times for specialist memory clinics and deal with an increasing level of dementia diagnosis, according to the chair of Leeds health and wellbeing board Coun Lisa Mulherin (Lab).

The council is also looking at ways to increase linking services for people who live close to the boundaries between different areas to facilitate joined-up care.

Coun Mulherin said: “LCC is working closely with the NHS and voluntary organisations to improve services for those with dementia, their carers and families at a time of increasing financial austerity.

“We’re committed to everyone in Leeds being reliably and consistently offered information and advice to live with dementia.”