The Bungalow to become hub for older people’s services?

NHS keen to see Honiton centre of excellence continue to play a significant role.

The Bungalow must be retained as a centre of excellence for elderly people with dementia, according to the Northcote Lane Area Residents’ Association.

It discussed the future of the Devon Partnership NHS Trust facility at a meeting last week and agreed it would be “a tragedy” if it was to close.

Ken Sherman, the association’s chairman, formerly worked at The Bungalow and said: “It really was the pride of the NHS when it opened.

“We had visitors from America to see how it was run.

“For it to be lost would be a tragedy.”

Mr Sherman said there is an “urgent need” for The Bungalow.

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“It is in an ideal spot to have people in for diagnosis and care.”

There was agreement that good progress is being made towards the development of a clear model of care for local people at the latest meeting of the Honiton Older People’s Mental Health Stakeholder Group.

Heather Penwarden, chairman of Honiton Memory Cafe and now chairman of Honiton Hospital League of Friends, said: “Members of the group recently visited Torbay and we were impressed with both the quality and the degree to which services for older people are ‘joined-up’ there. We are now far clearer about what we need to do to improve the service for people in and around Honiton – and some developments have already taken place in East Devon.

“Specifically, new memory clinics are providing early assessment and diagnosis for people with dementia and, very importantly, improved education, support and training is being made available to carers. These services are now available to the people of Honiton but they are currently provided elsewhere in East Devon. Our hope is that they will be provided in Honiton in due course.”

Alf Boom, one of the community representatives on the stakeholder group, added: “It is now over three years since the Bungalow stopped being used for its original purpose and several months since it stopped operating as an inpatient unit altogether. During that time, we have been pressing for improved mental health services for older people in the Honiton area.

“Devon Partnership NHS Trust’s plans are encouraging, but we need to make sure that they will be delivered as soon as possible. We will be asking the trust for a timetable outlining when these services will become a reality.”

Dr David Somerfield, the trust’s medical director and a consultant psychiatrist working with older people, said: “We are very keen to see The Bungalow at Honiton Community Hospital continue to play a role in supporting older people with mental health needs.

“The Bungalow no longer provides an inpatient service, now that we have opened our two wonderful new wards in Exeter, but our plan is for it to become the ‘hub’ for older people’s services in East Devon – providing a base for staff and a place to undertake assessment, treatment and training for people using our services.

“We still have some financial hurdles to overcome to make the necessary structural changes to the building, but we are hopeful that we can proceed with this plan soon.”