Reassurance sought over Spencer Ward respite care provision

Cavendish Hospital in Buxton
Cavendish Hospital in Buxton

A Buxton woman who says dementia has robbed her husband of his life is concerned that she will be unable to cope without the respite care provided by the town’s Spencer Ward.

Carole Waters has been caring for her husband Gary, who was diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of 54, for the past eight years, and he requires constant supervision.

Carole, 63, said: “This awful disease has robbed a clever, intelligent man, who used to be a chief engineer in the merchant navy, of his life, and robbed me of the man I married.”

North Derbyshire and Hardwick clinical commissioning groups (CCG) voted in July to permanently close the Spencer Ward at Buxton’s Cavendish Hospital, which looks after elderly patients with mental health problems and has respite beds to give carers a break.

The ward was originally scheduled to close in 2020, but last week health chiefs revealed it would now shut by the end of February.

Carole and Gary have been together for 26 years. She said: “I gave up my job to care for my husband and I want him to stay at home, but I need to know he has respite care.

“For me it is the light at the end of the tunnel during the long nights when he wakes, or when I am taking care of his every basic need. Without respite I am going to burn out.

“I don’t want to put him in a home - he may not be the man he once was, but he is still my husband and going into a home wouldn’t suit his needs.”

Carole said she wanted reassurance that carers had been considered in the controversial Better Care Closer to Home reorganisation.

She said: “I worry the new plans for an on-call Dementia Rapid Response Team will not be enough. They won’t be there to let me have a week off so I will never get a chance to see my own friends or take care of me.”

A CCG spokesman said: “We would like to assure Carol that Gary and the six other patients that currently utilise the Spencer Ward will continue to receive respite care once the ward has closed.

“As we promised throughout the consultation, and at the decision-making meeting, we will ensure appropriate arrangements are put in place for the seven patients currently receiving respite care.

“Carers make a major contribution to society and we appreciate everything they do to provide care to their ill, frail or disabled friends and family.

“We also urge all carers in the county to make contact with Derbyshire Carers Association. They provide a number of services to support carers and are often able to signpost to helpful information and advice and other opportunities that exist for respite.”