The public is being asked to have its say on inpatient dementia services as the Southern Trust reveals it is expected to have the highest number of people over 65 with the illness in 10 years’ time.
The trust has launched a three-month public consultation on the future provision of services.
It is proposing creating a specialist inpatient dementia unit within the Bluestone mental health unit on the Craigavon Area Hospital site.
Up until May 2022, the trust had a stand-alone inpatient dementia assessment and treatment unit on the Gillis Ward at St Luke’s Hospital, Armagh.
Patients were relocated to the Willows Ward at the Bluestone Unit “as an interim contingency arrangement to ensure patient safety and quality of care when dedicated consultant psychiatry cover could not be secured”.
Jan McGall, director of mental health and disability, said: “The main issues driving the review of inpatient dementia service relates to safe and effective patient care and service sustainability given the local and regional pressures in recruiting consultants in psychiatry of old age.
“By 2032, the Southern Trust is expected to have the highest number of individuals registered with dementia over 65 (according to NI Statistics and Research Agency 2018 population projections).
“We need to make changes now that will ensure we can continue to provide safe and effective care for these vulnerable patients into the future.
“The creation of a specialist inpatient dementia unit, co-located with the wider Mental Health and Disability Inpatient Service at the Bluestone Unit, Craigavon Hospital, will offer increased access to medical and wider multi-disciplinary teams in one location and ensure safe, sustainable services for the Southern Trust population.
“We welcome the public’s views on these proposals, as we work towards making changes to these services next year.”
The consultation opened on October 3 and will close on December 23.
Full consultation documents, and details for how to respond, are available on the trust’s website https://southerntrust.hscni.net/involving-you/consultations/ or by phoning 028 37564819 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org