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The evidence shows carers are struggling to get their loved ones a referral to the threatened specialist dementia Netherwood Day Centre

17 March, 2017

• AT a recent meeting to discuss the proposed closure of Netherwood Day Centre – Camden’s only specialist dementia centre – I was appalled to hear of carers’ struggles to get their loved ones a referral to the centre and how the referral system is clearly a significant cause of the decrease in numbers attending it.

Of the nine carers in attendance eight revealed they had not been referred to Netherwood by either their GP, their social worker, or, more shockingly, the memory service. Each and every one of them discovered Netherwood through word of mouth.

This is just not good enough. It is also not good enough for a council to close a centre based on data that is clearly inaccurate and not an honest reflection of the great need for more, not fewer, specialist dementia centres.

In the meeting we, as carers, suggested that the means of referral should be completely reviewed before such a beloved and needed centre is threatened.

Sue Odell’s aunt was diagnosed with dementia in 2012. Netherwood was not mentioned to her by a social worker or the memory clinic. She continued to “fight” to find a place for her aunt at a day centre and, through her own research, she discovered Netherwood.

After her first visit to the centre it took another 11 months before her aunt was as finally attending Netherwood. Sue has tried to get her aunt a third day at the centre but has been met with resistance from social workers. She has offered to pay for the third day and also highlighted the spare capacity.

It seems unbelievable that she has had such a long battle to get her aunt to Netherwood.

Diane Morris’s mother has dementia and Parkinson’s. She attends Kingsgate.

Netherwood was never mentioned to Diane even though she believes it would suit her mother’s needs far better.

Sadly this scenario was echoed time and again by carers who did not find out about Netherwood through official channels but through word of mouth and often sheer luck.

As carers we have a gnawing suspicion that referrals to Netherwood are being scuppered or blocked, so facilitating the council’s proposal to close the centre.

Our pleas are simply being brushed aside.

Councillor Georgia Gould, who has the ultimate say in this decision, insists referrals are not being scuppered but she has not expressed interest in investigating why the referrals system is so flawed.

Instead she insists the take-up of day centre services by individuals has decreased both locally and nationally. She uses this “fact” to justify closure of Netherwood.

I have asked repeatedly for Cllr Gould to clarify if she is referring to day centres in general or specifically dementia day centres.

She has not responded to this.

I argue it is an important distinction that needs to be clarified. I have also asked for figures on the savings projection if Netherwood is closed and how much a refurbished Kingsgate centre would cost if the plan to move those from Netherwood and Raglan to this venue went ahead?

One carer concluded: “It seems that you have to run an obstacle course and then a six-mile race to get into Netherwood now.” This should not be so.

If you would like to help save Netherwood please fill out the consultation paper (which can be found at http://news.camden.gov.uk/adult-social-care-consultations—have-your-say before April 9) and sign our petition at bit.ly/netheruk

JANE CLINTON, Friends of Netherwood

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