Home Slams Lack Of Local Dementia Beds

The owner of a new care home for dementia sufferers is demanding Essex County Council do much more to address the chronic shortfall of beds in the area. Gavin Sunshine, of Foldcroft, Harlow, has opened Sunshine Residential Care, in Weald Hall Lane, Thornwood, with 39 beds for people suffering Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Mr Sunshine, along with brother and general manager Mark and care manager Mike Stevens, has taken on 20 carers as well as a separate team of support staff.

The Metropolitan Police officer says he wants to help local sufferers who need financial help to get proper care but complained that County Hall’s lack of funding for care beds means he will have to accept patients from outside Essex whose local authorities put more money into paying for beds.

“This area is screaming out for more beds,” he said. “The demand everywhere is colossal; the Harlow area needs something like 267 beds and we can only provide 39 of them. We are from Harlow and want this to be for local people but it can’t be the case at the moment because the council doesn’t recognise dementia that much. That’s not to say they don’t care but, hopefully, it will not be long before Essex changes its views.”

Marion Howell, Harlow branch manager of the Alzheimer’s Society, sympathised with the home’s position, especially as the closure of Goldsmiths and Ashlyns homes for the elderly had created more demand for places.

“Essex have taken quite a strong view about what they’re prepared to pay across the county,” she said. “But local care providers tell me they can’t provide care at that level. There are an estimated 1,000 dementia sufferers in Harlow; it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out there’s a chronic shortfall.”

A County Hall spokeswoman said the authority pays for 37 of the 77 dementia care beds currently in the Harlow area and stressed public money had to be used efficiently.

“Essex funds specialist dementia care at a higher rate than standard residential care provision,” she added. “It is anticipated that the original 48 beds that Goldsmiths provided will be significantly increased to meet the demands for extra capacity in Harlow.”