Cambridge

Care fears after Cambridge dementia sufferer housed in Travelodge

An elderly woman with severe dementia was housed in a Travelodge for “several days” by the Cambridgeshire County Council.

Some have branded the situation “horrendous” and raised concerns that the hotel was not a safe environment for someone with the debilitating condition.

The Cambridge woman was given emergency accommodation in the hotel for “several days” last month after having to move out of her home. She was accompanied by a 24-hour carer, who also stayed at the hotel.

She is now understood to have been moved to “more appropriate” accommodation.

The situation has prompted calls for better facilities in Cambridgeshire for those living with dementia, a syndrome that can cause memory loss, problems with language and understanding as well as difficulties with movement and decision making.

Cambridgeshire County Council, the authority in charge of adult social care in the area, says “sometimes” offering temporary accommodation is the best solution for people who can no longer live at home. They said they always have the well-being of sufferers in mind, and work hard to find “more appropriate” accommodation.

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Dementia and Alzheimer's

They also stressed that the individual needs of the person would have been taken into account before emergency accommodation was found.

Some, however, have hit out at the situation, saying it is neither “safe or sensible” to put someone living with dementia in an unfamiliar hotel which is not specially designed or equipped for their needs.

Lucy Nethsingha, Lib Dem leader on the county council, said the county needed better facilities to help dementia sufferers. She said the idea of people living with their carers in hotels was “horrendous”.

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha (Image: David Johnson)

Cllr Nethsingha said: “I dont know how long she was in a Travelodge with her carer, but the idea of having to care for someone in this state in a Travelodge, even for a few days, is pretty horrendous.”

Cllr Nethsingha said she did not think hotel accommodation was appropriate for people with dementia, and said it was “unfair” to expect carers to provide 24-hour care in a place that is not designed for looking after a patient who is “unfamiliar with their surroundings and, potentially, confused”.

Cllr Nethsingha said she is worried that there are not enough proper facilities to help people with dementia in the county. She said too many people were either having 24-hour care in their homes, or were being housed in emergency accommodation. She said this was neither “safe or sensible”, and called on the council to build their own facility, rather than relying on giving people care in their homes or in emergency accommodation.

“I know that there is a shortage of dementia care home places in Cambridgeshire at present,” said Cllr Nethsingha. “But I am concerned that the county council is pretending that it can manage this shortage by caring for people in their homes, when in fact that is not a safe or sensible solution.

“The County needs to act much more quickly to build their own facility, something they have been discussing for ages. Why can they sort a move to Alconbury (where the county council is planning a new headquarters) with speed, but not build a care home for years?”

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Cambridgeshire County Council

Cllr Anna Bailey, chairwoman of Cambridgeshire County Councils Adults Committee, said the council is already looking at building its own care facility to help alleviate the situation.

She said the preference would be to build on council land, and enter into the venture jointly with a “partner”, either in the local health service, or a private company. Cllr Bailey said a report on the topic would be published in the “not too distant future”.

Cllr Bailey said the projected increase in dementia cases in Cambridgeshire is “stark”, but she noted no cuts had been made in this area, and said she thought this incident was “not indicative” of the overall picture in the county.

“There are always going to be cases like this, and clearly peoples circumstances are individual. What is right for one person is not always right for others.”

Cllr Bailey said it is “not unusual” for people in emergency situations to be given temporary accommodation by the council. She said the critical thing is whether the accommodation was “appropriate” for the individuals particular needs. She said peoples needs are always carefully considered.

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The county council said individuals are “always involved” in the decision making process about their accommodation. They said emergency accommodation was sometimes necessary, but staff would always work to make sure it was only for a “short period”.

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokeswoman said: “The County Council does not comment on individual cases as it would be a breach of confidentiality and details about the personal circumstances of the people we support.

“Our paramount concern in situations like this one is always the immediate safety and wellbeing of the individual concerned and sometimes offering temporary accommodation is important as a short term measure. It could be for example that someones circumstances change dramatically, such as their home becomes unsafe overnight or they become vulnerable in their own home.

“It is in these cases, that sometimes an individual will be placed in temporary accommodation and the County Councils social care staff will work hard to make sure this is for a short period only while they find more appropriate permanent accommodation or any problems at home are sorted out. We always look at all the options available and make sure that we understand what someones preferred choice would be.

“On the occasions when temporary accommodation is used, we ensure the individuals are involved in all decision making and they receive the care and support that they need.”

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