'People will have to go into residential care': Northampton users of specialist dementia team fear it will be axed

Sylvia Johnson receives support from the Olympus Care specialist dementia team at home. But a review of the service has left her daughter Lynn, right, fearful of her future.
Sylvia Johnson receives support from the Olympus Care specialist dementia team at home. But a review of the service has left her daughter Lynn, right, fearful of her future.

The green light is set to be given to a consultation in Northamptonshire that could see 35 families lose their specialist dementia care at home team.

The Olympus Care domiciliary dementia workers have been providing vital support to elderly people stranded at home with the condition for ten years.

Its specially trained carers help sufferers get in and out of bed, cook them food and make sure they have taken medicines among a range of around-the-house tasks.

But more and more users of the service say they are scared about the future - as the cash-strapped county council prepares to enact a review of the service to save a chunk of the £522,000 yearly service cost.

Julie Slinn's mother-in-law Molly's team has been visiting her for nine years, to make sure she is showered, dressed, fed and given some company every day.

She said: "This is just really sad - the council want people to remain in their own homes - but people are going to end up having to go into long-term residential care - because the care just isn't going to meet their needs."

Although the council has assured the 35 families currently using the service that they will still receive home care - the service users fear they will be visited by an agency that does not specialise in dementia patients.

"When you are not dementia trained it makes a difference," said former carer Julie, 54, of Duston. "My mother in law needs to be led rather than asked to do things. If you have the training you know how to do these things."

Furthermore, they say their loved ones will be greatly affected by a change to their routine.

Barclaycard worker Lynn Johnson looks after her mother at her bungalow in Kingsthorpe every evening and relies on the support of an Olympus Care team for help in the day.

The specialist dementia carers come in three times a day to get 85-year-old Sylvia out of bed, dressed, fed and supplied with medication.

She said: "I am worried she is not going to have consistency- she is not going to have that rapport with a specialist team who are capable of washing her and getting her fed."

However, papers set to go before the county council's cabinet meeting on Tuesday show that the specialist Olympus Care team is being underused. It has the capacity to look after 90 patients, two thirds more than the 35 currently on its books.

The papers state the council could look to redeploy the workers elsewhere in Olympus Care.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “As part of a review of all council services it is proposed that a consultation will soon take place into how dementia domiciliary care is provided in the county.

“The review of the dementia domiciliary care service is not about a change in the level of care but about how it is provided and by whom.

“The consultation will allow people to give their views. It is scheduled to take place between November and January, with a final decision by Cabinet in February 2019.”