A health campaigner is pushing the government to reopen two "absolutely essential" specialist dementia wards at St. Saviour's Hospital to provide better care for patients while easing bed blocking at the General Hospital.
Oak and Maple Wards, which closed in 2020, provided specialist care for advanced dementia patients who were considered too labour intensive for care homes.
When they were open at Rosewood House, Oak provided 19 beds and Maple provided 18.
With these wards now closed, the only remaining unit focused on caring for persons over the age of 65 years suffering from memory problems is Beech ward at Clinique Pinel. Despite their closure, Oak and Maple wards remain listed on the gov.je website.
Work to upgrade Rosewood House, where both wards are located, was announced in 2020. In September 2022, a planning application was submitted to convert Maple Ward into five accommodation units for people with learning disabilities - a replacement for the "substandard" Aviemore facility next to Haut de la Garenne.
In the meantime, some individuals with dementia have had to remain at the General Hospital.
Healthcare campaigner of six years Jean Lelliot said a recent visit to see a relative there left her convinced that this was not an appropriate location for people with dementia to be cared for, partly due to the lack of specialised staff and the impact they can have on other patients.
"...They should be in secure wards like the Oak and Maple. Advanced dementia affects the brain, and the St. Saviour's Hospital was secure to help keep these patients, who are often unsure of what they're doing, in a safe environment.
"These patients are disruptive to the other wards in the General Hospital, and it can't go on. The General Hospital is not the right place for them. We urgently need to re-open these beds."
Another key issue is that of bed-blocking. The hospital has over the past year repeatedly come under pressure due to the lack of available beds, largely because there are no places in the community for elderly islanders to be cared for.
Earlier this month, Dr David Ng revealed on Twitter that there were up to 35 "medically fit for discharge" patients blocking beds for acutely ill patients.
So, it seems that the States Employment Board don't believe we need a Care of the Elderly Consultant nor a Consultant specialising in Stroke Care for Jersey, when we have up to 35 "medically fit for discharge" patients blocking our beds for acutely ill patients— David Ng (@JerseyGIdoctor) March 3, 2023
If the "absolutely essential" Oak and Maple Wards were open, some of these patients could be moved and dealt with in specialist wards for those suffering from dementia, freeing up the much-needed bed space, Ms Lelliot argues.
She also questioned why the government had taken the step of "shutting them down when dementia is clearly on an increase in the Island."
As Jersey's population is ageing exponentially, a 2012 study showed there was an estimated projected increase in moderate and severe dementia of 38% by 2020 (to 1,716 people), with a 64% increase by 2025 (2,040 people) and a 154% increase by 2040 (3,167 people).
"The health department should be working together to make sure all mental illnesses are provided for," she said.
HoIn a bid to get Oak and Maple Ward reopened, Ms Lelliot has launched a petition. It currently has around 400 signatures.
If the petition gets 1,000 signatures, the Health Minister will officially have to consider it. If it gets 5,000, the issue will be debated by the States Assembly.
Express contacted the government for comment last week.
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