A doctor who is spending the next four years looking at the impact and experiences of people with dementia in rural areas says she understands why people are worried about possible closure of the Spencer Ward at Buxton’s Cavendish Hospital.
Dr Fiona Marshall is heading a project to try and map dementia in the Peak District. She is an Alzheimer’s Society senior research fellow, part of the Institute of Mental Health, and works at the University of Nottingham Innovation Park.
Speaking in a personal capacity, she said: “I cannot comment directly on the Spencer Ward consultation, but I am aware that this consultation is very worrying for many people with dementia and their carers.
“Rural care has to be designed using local knowledge and not entirely modelled on urban care models.”
Ten specialist mental health beds on the Spencer Ward could go as care would be provided in the community through a Dementia Rapid Response Team and acute admissions would be made to Walton Hospital in Chesterfield.
Dr Marshall said: “Acute admissions to hospital can lead to increased distress, disorientation and may not be best for the family. Night-time admissions are especially disorientating and the proposed crisis service up to 8pm is worthy of reconsideration as dementia knows no time boundaries.”
She said: “We know that more older people live in rural areas than urban and those with dementia will grow as the numbers of very old increases.
“Rural care is very costly to deliver but the outcomes for people with dementia and their families may be more positive than a reliance on hospital care. Hospital care can be disruptive and lead to further deterioration.
“Services in rural areas have to be configured to consider the realities of weather, distances to travel, which all work against care delivery that is robust, reliable and acceptable.”
She added: “There is a underlying need for a comprehensive examination of what people with dementia want, which may be to remain as long as possible in their own communities.”
Dr Marshall will be documenting the services available for people with dementia in rural areas such as the High Peak and seeing how they seek help. The results will be used to develop rural care models and help make decisions about dementia care needs in the Peak Park.
She needs 60 people for her report which will last two years. For more information, contact Dr Marshall on 07920 813 623 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.