Plans to move a Port Erin man with dementia from Southlands to a home in Douglas have left his wife feeling ‘desperate’ because she will be unable to visit him.
Alternatively, he could be moved to Abbotswood in Ballasalla, which is nearer to home, but his wife has been told she would have to cover the £180 a week shortfall in charges.
Eddie Cain, 71, has vascular dementia and nine months ago became a resident at the Gansey unit in Southlands Resource Centre. ‘When he went he was quite aggressive, now he has calmed down,’ said his wife Lesley.
He likes it there, she said, adding: ‘He is really settled there and the girls are so good to him.’
When he leaves the home, he becomes distressed, as happened on a recent trip to hospital. His GPs agree, and have written in support, that moving him would be ‘detrimental’ to his health.
In February, Lesley first heard of plans to move him out of Southlands.
She said: ‘They want to move him because they do not do nursing care [in Southlands].’
But Lesley argues that others in the home require more care than Eddie. ‘Two other people cannot do anything for themselves, they can stay and Eddie cannot. It’s not fair.’
Lesley doesn’t drive and suffers from Crohn’s disease, which affects the intestines, making a long bus journey challenging. ‘I panic and have to get off the bus at Ballasalla or Castletown,’ she said. ‘When I told the Department of Health and Social Care, they said: “It’s not our problem”.’
Although Eddie has two pensions – one state and the other from Ronaldsway Aircraft Company – it is not enough to cover the charges if he was moved to Abbotswood and would leave a shortfall of £180 a week. Lesley said: ‘Social will not pay that. I said: “Cannot you negotiate with them?”’
She has appealed to the health minister and three Rushen MHKs but no one seems able to help, she said. ‘They said: “It’s not our problem”.’
At the moment, Lesley visits Eddie four days a week, she is concerned if he is moved to Douglas he will get ‘no visitors at all … I am desperate, it’s so distressing. It’s bad enough him being in there without going through this as well’.
Rushen MHK Laurence Skelly said: ‘It’s a very difficult situation. I certainly sympathise with her. I’m pretty certain from the department’s point of view they want to make sure there is a certain level of care that needs to be adhered to. The department is very conscious of that. They try their utmost to keep families in their locality. We are lucky to have Southlands. Should the situation change, they would consider relocation. We cannot interfere as regards medical decisions, what we can do is ensure all the options have been explored.’
The DHSC outlined the role of the GanseyEMI Unit and the differences between residential and nursing home care: ‘Gansey Unit is one of three specialist EMI residential care facilities on the island. Its purpose is to support those older people with mental health issues who have challenging care needs.
‘Those needs are not necessarily to do with violent or aggressive behaviour. The service aims to manage these behaviours in a safe way that promotes quality of life. Particularly, for people with dementia, there comes a time when difficult to manage behaviour reduces and their primary need changes from being mental health to physical health related, and their need becomes primarily one for physical nursing care.
‘Gansey Unit is not a nursing home; it is designed, staffed and registered (in accordance with the Regulation of Care Act) as a specialist residential facility. It is not registered as a nursing home, and therefore cannot provide the care offered within a nursing home.
‘The department recognises that the transition between residential and nursing home care can often be difficult, and that the costs associated with nursing home care are high. Social work support for the move is available to families wherever this is appropriate.’