'If Hurlfield goes, I don't know what I'll do' - Carers voice their worry at plans to close Sheffield's last dementia respite centre

Hurlfield View in Gleadless is set to shut in March
Hurlfield View in Gleadless is set to shut in March

Feelings ran high as dozens of carers packed into a public meeting to denounce plans to close Sheffield's last specialist dementia respite centre.

Sheffield Council plans to shut Hurlfield View in Gleadless after NHS social care bosses who run the facility said they could no longer afford to do so.

One carer called the decision a 'disaster' another said the prospect of life without Hurlfield View was 'frightening'.

Over 8,000 people have signed petitions calling on the council to halt the closure - triggering a debate where councillors will discuss the decision next week.

Many of the carers in revealed their feelings about the closure in a moving film.

The service offers a specialised residential respite service for service users with dementia, and planned respite care and emergency respite care to support carers in crisis. The service enables carers and family members to gain respite while supporting service users with dementia to be able to return home when appropriate.

Patricia Willey, who cares for her husband Roger, worries about life after Hurlfield

Patricia Willey, who cares for her husband Roger, worries about life after Hurlfield

Addressing the meeting, Sue Highton, branch secretary for public services union Unison hit out at Sheffield Council for a 'non-existent' consultation on the closure. Many carers in the meeting said they had not been visited by anyone after being promised they would.

The union secretary who also praised hard-working staff at the centre said: "We won't stop fighting until the doors on Hurlfield View shut for good."

Council health bosses have said they are confident they have provision in care homes across the city for people to use.

But Patricia Willey, 74, of Ecclesall, told the meeting she contacted 14 care homes to arrange pre-booked respite care. Only four of them could offer places and two were already booked up.

Concerned carers attended a public meeting at St Mary's Church on Bramall Lane

Concerned carers attended a public meeting at St Mary's Church on Bramall Lane

Speaking to The Star, Patricia said she is racked with worry about Hurlfield View closing and 'doesn't know what to do'.

She owes a lot to Hurlfield and couldn't praise the centre enough.

"It was a godsend when I found out about Hurlfield because I had tried to get Roger in for respite but unfortunately most care homes would be lucky to have one respite bed," she said.

"Before Hurlfield, the chances of getting my husband in respite were practically non-existent."

Sue Harding and Rita Brookes were both critical at the plans to close Hurlfield View

Sue Harding and Rita Brookes were both critical at the plans to close Hurlfield View

But a few months ago, Patricia received the dreaded letter like many other carers who use Hurlfield View. She called the plan to close the centre 'insane'.

"I was shocked, I couldn't believe it because I think it's unique and it's one of a kind as far as I know in Sheffield," Patricia said.

"Because it offers short term care, it gives more people more chance to have a break because people aren't occupying the beds all the time. If a good alternative can be found then great but I don't think it can be.

"I rang 14 care homes around where I live and only four of them could offer pre-booking services and two of them are already booked up.

"I worry because I don't know what I'm going to do.

"You have to manage like everyone else does but as a carer, I do feel guilty putting Roger in respite but you do need the break. I think it's better for them and it's better for yourself.

Unison officials urged carers to contact their MPs and councillors

Unison officials urged carers to contact their MPs and councillors

"It's upsetting - I worry about not getting in anywhere for respite. It's insane really I don't know how else to put it."

Sue Harding, 65, and Rita Brooks, 58, met a few years ago while caring for family members and they subsequently formed a charity which provide activities for people in care homes.

Both were very critical of the decision to close Hurlfield View.

"The council has not asked the service users' opinions on this," Sue said.

"Lots of these people will end up in A&E because there won't be an emergency bed available when Hurlfield goes.

"If you've got a person living with dementia and they get aggressive in the middle of the night and there carer is an elderly wife for example then what are they going to do? It's 999 they will ring.

"Hospital beds cost double than they do in place like Hurlfield, it's a false economy. This goes wider than Hurlfield - this is a sustained attack on dementia services across Sheffield."

Rita said: "This is a centre with dedicated staff caring for people with complex dementia needs. Without Hurlfield, we are more than likely lose this valuable expertise. To dismantle the team at Hurlfield is a big mistake - it doesn't make any sense."

Coun Cate McDonald, cabinet member for Health and Social Care, said: “Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust confirmed that they could no longer provide the services at Hurlfield View in September 2016. We have been working non-stop since then to make sure that alternative services are available when Hurlfield closes. This has been our absolute first priority. We know how important it is for the people who use it and their carers.

“We are now 100% confident that we will have sufficient pre-bookable respite and day care activities in place for April 2017. We will be able to start arranging bookings from mid-February and we will be in contact with Hurlfield View users shortly to arrange replacement services.

“I understand that people are concerned and want to assure them that all of the homes we are going to be working with are well rated and already providing care and support to people with very complex needs.”

Hurlfield View

Hurlfield View