Relatives and carers are celebrating in Melton this week after services for people with advanced dementia were saved from being axed.
A campaign has been waged for the last 18 months in a bid to convince the East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG (ELR CCG) to maintain funding for the Age UK day sessions at the town’s Gloucester House.
The services provide valuable interaction for severe dementia sufferers and respite for relatives who look after elderly parents and grandparents in their own homes.
It was feared that the loss of the sessions would mean that many of those who attend them would have to instead move into residential care homes.
But the ELR CCG has now agreed to guarantee funding for the £70,000 a year services for at least the next two years.
Advanced dementia day care sessions are fully subscribed with nearly 50 elderly people with the condition attending every week, some once a week and others multiple times every week. 10 volunteers help run the sessions with centre staff.
Pam Wright, day care organiser at Gloucester House, said: “It’s really marvellous news.
“We were all so concerned because we were thinking about where all these people were going to have to go.
“I try to keep them coming here as long as I can because I know how important the service is to people with dementia.”
Renata Whetton’s 81-year-old husband, Gordon, a former RAF serviceman, attends the sessions. She said the service gives her a break from caring for him and it would be difficult to cope without them.
“It gives him a real boost,” said Renata. “He loves the social side of it so I am so pleased it’s going to continue.”
Stuart Catling’s mum, Barbara, is 90, and he says attending the centre is one of the highlights of her week.
The 64-year-old said: “It gets mum out of the house. She would just be at home sitting otherwise so it’s great for her to come and meet other people.”
Dinah Hickling’s husband, Robert (76), has been attending sessions two days a week for four years.
“He looks forward to it every week and it gives me a break. I was really pleased to hear it will keep going,” said Dinah.
Rhonda Fazackerley, manager at Gloucester House, said: “It’s just brilliant that we can continue the advanced care services - this has really lifted morale.
“It’s massive for the families because they know they can drop relatives off and they will get the care they need, they will be able to socialise with others and they’ll get a hot meal as well.
“I don’t know what would have happened if the services had been lost but lots of people would have had to go into residential homes as a result.”
Tony Donovan, executive director for Age UK Leicester Shire and Rutland, which part-funds the advanced dementia care in Melton, said: “It is really great news to get the funding. It’s been a long battle to save these services and to get a two-year extension is fantastic, particularly in the current financial climate.”
Funding would have run out in September had it not been renewed. Relatives and carers innundated the ELR CCG, which commissions healthcare services in the region, with letters and petitions urging them to reconsider their threats to stop paying for the care.
They were convinced about how important it was after paying an extended visit to sessions.
Mr Donovan said: “The benefit these services give to carers is immense and I don’t think the CCG members fully appreciated it until they went to speak to them at Gloucester House.
“The carers are absolutely delighted with the decision because they were very concerned. A lot of them are elderly themselves and they faced having to pay to put their relatives into care homes instead.”
Some of the upkeep of Gloucester House is paid for from sales at Melton’s Age UK charity shop in Nottingham Street.
Mr Donovan added: “Melton is fairly unique in Leicestershire because it has Gloucester House and the shop.
“We need more clothes to be donated at the moment because people are tending to hold on to them or selling them online in the current climate.
“They are giving to charity shops less and less so we would appeal to people to give more if they can.”