Suffolk dementia services change leaves users worried about help groups

Sarah Prentice wants to know what will happen to her dad's dementia group at the Jubilee Centre
Sarah Prentice wants to know what will happen to her dad's dementia group at the Jubilee Centre
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The charity behind a new Suffolk dementia service has been criticised for failing to keep users informed of what is happening to the existing groups they use.

Suffolk’s two care commissioning groups, in partnership with Suffolk County Council, announced last week that a new Dementia Together service managed by the Sue Ryder charity will begin on April 1, with a single point of contact.

But users of existing services say they have not been kept informed of what is happening to their existing groups and requests from the Bury Free Press to Sue Ryder for information on the groups had not been met as we went to press.

Sarah Prentice’s father Bill Plain, 80, from Red Lodge, uses a dementia support group run monthly at Mildenhall’s Jubilee Cenytre by the Alzheimer’s Society.

“We were so pleased we had found somewhere,” she said. “Then we were told next month would be the last one.

“We haven’t been written to by anyone. We were told it was closing by the lady who runs it. Some of these people are on their own and haven’t got family to look after them.”

The Alzheimer’s Society said all users should have had a letter in December. However, that said: “New organisations will deliver dementia support services, we don’t know at this early stage if this will include support groups.”

Debbie Foster, Alzheimer’s Society operations manager for Norfolk and Suffolk said: “We are disappointed by this decision but will be working closely with the new provider during the transition period.”

It will continue its Side by Side service and to give support and information through its website, online forum and National Dementia Helpline.

Jo Marshall, neurological centre director for Sue Ryder, said: “Dementia Together will see a significant improvement in dementia support, providing joined up support enabling easy access to the right help, information and support at every stage of the illness.

“In the coming months Dementia Together will develop a range of support groups, helping those living with dementia and their carers.

“At Sue Ryder we will work closely with other organisations, including those closing services due to the new contract arrangements, to ensure those currently receiving support transfer smoothly to the new service.”

She urged anyone with any questions about it to contact Sue Ryder on 01473 295200.

Bury St Edmunds’ Gatehouse charity says all its dementia services will continue.