2,000 have dementia but only 26 public beds

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Stormont Health Committee member Mark H Durkan says consideration needs to be given to funding more statutory care beds for people with dementia in Derry amid growing demand and the fact there are now 2,282 sufferers in the Western Trust but only 26 public beds.

“It’s not a recent scenario,” said Mr Durkan. “We’ve been contacted by constituents who have been faced with their spouse or family member being moved from the Waterside Hospital up to Omagh, this can be disruptive for the spouse, the patient and the carers.”

Mr Durkan recently quizzed the Health Minister Michelle O’Neill about the dementia rates and services in the Derry area.

She replied that there were 2,282 registered sufferers in the Western Trust at the end of March but that “the Western Health and Social Care Trust has one statutory residential care home with capacity for 26 beds for people with dementia.”

She was unable, however, to outline how many people diagnosed with dementia in the Derry City area had to go to Omagh for residential care in the last five years.

Mr Durkan pointed to Basque health specialist Dr Rafael Bengoa’s report on the restructuring of the health service across the North, which was published on Tuesday.

Dr Bengoa and his expert team pointed out that dementia is a growing issue for our older population, with 60,000 people projected to be suffering from the condition by 2051.

It currently stands at 13,617.

Mr Durkan said: “I think there is a growing need for residential care.

“It’s a complex condition and we accept Bengoa and the point that the most appropriate care setting is often at home or in the community but with the projected growth in population, surely there is a need for more residential care beds, across the whole Trust but particularly in the largest urban centre, which is Derry City.”