Service provides crucial respite

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West Sussex County Council’s recent decision to stop funding the Alzheimer’s Society Coastal Home Support Respite Service (The Herald, September 11) reveals a failure to fully appreciate what this specialist service offers to both unpaid family carers and the people for whom they care.

Highly rated by Care Quality Commission inspectors and nationally recognised with a dementia carer of the year award (The Herald, July 12), this service supplies an experienced dementia support worker not only to home-sit while the family carer gets a few hours of respite but, where possible, to assist the person with dementia to access the community for exercise, mental and social stimulation, and to attend health and personal care appointments.

One of the 70 people per week this service helps is my mother, Helena.

Her smile and child-like excitement after a trip out for lunch and a walk around Haskins Garden Centre with Ann, a support worker from this service, demonstrates how much she gains from this physical and mental stimulation, known factors in promoting health and well-being and slowing the progression of this terrible disease.

I gain real respite because I know that my mother is each week in the same safe, experienced hands.

An anonymous WSCC official says this high quality support service “had” to be cut. Yet spending on county councillor allowances and expenses (£1,229,333 last year; West Sussex County Times, August 18) and managerial salaries plus their generous pension pots (e.g. Judith Wright, Director of Health & Social Care Commissioning, £150,000 in 2013) increases without any clear benefit to residents.

The Herald might ask Worthing’s county councillors whether they personally support this decision. To stop funding excellence in dementia care shows that in reality WSCC “talk the talk but won’t walk the walk” in meeting the Prime Minister’s challenge to improve dementia care and support for the almost 2,000 people with dementia in Worthing, their family and carers.

This decision also risks passing on expensive care cost to the NHS by increasing unplanned acute hospital admissions for those with complex needs.

Dementia carers and their families may wish to register their disapproval using social media by tweeting @WSCCNews

Dr Julian Budd

Queen Street,

Worthing

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