'Lifeline' Day Care centre for dementia patients to close in Brent due to lack of financial support

'Lifeline' Day Care centre for dementia patients to close in Brent due to lack of financial support

BRENT Irish Advisory Service has announced it is to close its Respite and Day Care Service due to a lack of 'financial support' from Brent Council. 

The service, which has been running for over 10 years, provided a respite Friday Club for older people in North London, many of whom have been living with dementia.

Mike McGing, the CEO of BIAS, said: “It is with much regret that this valuable service will now have to close because of a lack of commitment from Brent Council and long-standing charges owed by their Social Care Department.

"We are very concerned that the needs of the Irish community are being ignored and consequently many older vulnerable people are suffering.”

BIAS has worked with the Irish community in Brent for over 39 years and is one of the oldest Irish charities in Britain, and has helped over 50,000 people since its foundation.

Mr McGing added: "The majority of clients experience high levels of poverty, homelessness or very poor health.

"BIAS does not want to turn people in desperate need away but due to a drastic reduction in resources, this is happening more and more frequently."

Jenny Harty, whose mother Annie attends the Friday Club, said the only thing her mother looks forward to is attending the BIAS centre.

"My mother attends, she's 92 years of age and the only thing she looks forward to all week is Friday Club, and she has dementia.

"It's her only enjoyment once a week and I think it's utterly disgusting that they're closing.

"She's lived in Brent for 60 years and she gets nothing from nobody.

"There is no other service that I know of that comes to pick them up and brings them back again."

Michaela Power, whose mother Mary Power attends the BIAS Respite and Day Care Service, echoed Ms Harty's comments and said being around Irish people helps her mother remember her past.

"It's a real lifeline for my mother, just having that connection to the Irish community and Irish music really sparks something in her and connects her to her past.

"To have that taken away from her is really difficult.

"She was diagnosed with dementia three years ago, and she's 80 years old now. She's still very spirited but mentally it's been challenging for her. The people, the Irish characters, the dancing, she absolutely loves it and it's a real shame and disappointment that it's going."

Personalised model of care

A spokeswoman from Brent Council said that while they are sorry BIAS has decided to close its doors, they are complying with national policy which moves from the "traditional" model of care, into purchasing individual placements to cater to each individual's needs.

"Brent have been working with the day care market for some time to move from a more traditional model of care, where the council purchases ‘blocks’ of placements with specific providers, to a much more personalised model of care.

"This means that we purchase individual placements according to the wishes and needs of people who are assessed as needing support during the day to access their community."

According to the council, purchasing individual placements may mean a place at a "culturally appropriate" day centre the individual chooses, or to appoint an assistant for the person to access community facilities such as a leisure centre or cafe.

"This is in line with national policy and legislation, which states that care should be designed around the individual, and that people should have choice and control over how their care and support needs are met.

"This means that as a Council, we do not ‘block purchase’ day care and so cannot guarantee paid placements to any one provider.

"We are sorry to hear that the BIAS has reached the decision to close its day care provision.

"The Council will work closely with the BIAS and those currently accessing the service to move them on to other appropriate services that can meet their needs."

Mr McGing said elderly and people living with dementia have the least decision-making capacity, and BIAS are concerned that the elderly Irish community would not be fully supported.

"The elderly and vulnerable with dementia have the least decision-making capacity [in the people] who we support.

"We have no sense of commitment by Brent Council to make people aware of our service, supporting the largest Irish community in the UK.

"Many BIAS service users and families have advised of their frustrations in getting support from the Social Care department. Brent has an ageing Irish community and BIAS is concerned that the Irish community are not fully supported.

"BIAS would be very happy to meet with Brent Council to ensure the most vulnerable are supported with move-on support as requested, and to look at ways that Brent Council can assist BIAS in meeting our objectives to support the very disadvantaged in the Irish community."