£4m For North Wales Dementia Centre

A £4 MILLION centre of excellence to care for people with dementia has been given the go-ahead in North Wales.

The news came as it was revealed that the best-selling fantasy writer Terry Pratchett has donated £500,000 to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia.

After his own diagnosis, the 59-year-old author has described how it “strips away your living self a bit at a time”.

According to Professor Bob Woods, one of the UK’s leading experts on dementia, the new centre in Wrexham will be one of major regional importance.

He was speaking after it was confirmed that the Pendine Park care organisation in Gwersyllt near Wrexham, had secured planning permission.

To be called Bodlondeb (place of contentment), it will look after 64 people with dementia who need day care, respite care or residential services.

It will be divided into eight small, family-like units so that the residents receive as much individual care and attention as possible while benefiting from back-up of a larger organisation.

The aim is to build on the specialist dementia care already provided there.

There will also be an emphasis on staff training and development at the organisation’s Teaching Care Centre to support the carers who work at Bodlondeb.

Proprietor Mario Kreft said the sad news about Mr Pratchett underlined how dementia could strike anybody – regardless of social class or ability.

He hopes the expertise and training available at Pendine Park will be of benefit to the whole of the care sector in understanding how to provide better and more effective care.

Mr Kreft said: “It is much needed. There is no question we need more facilities both in the community and in care homes and within the NHS for people with dementia.

“As well as being a centre of excellence in relation to the services we provide, we also want Bodlondeb to be a centre for learning and training through our Teaching Care Centre.”

It is also a boost for the area’s economy as the development will create up to 75 new jobs, taking the number of people employed by the Pendine Park group to more than 500.

Experts fear if action is not taken soon, health and social care services will fail to meet the needs of the growing number of people with dementia.

The urgent need for the new facilities was recently underlined by the findings of a wide-ranging report prepared for the Welsh Assembly Government.

The reason that the problem is escalating so dramatically is that more and more people are living longer.

Professor Woods, who runs the Dementia Services Development Centre at Bangor University, said: “In North Wales, we’re looking at an increase of 33% in the number of people with dementia over the next dozen years.

“A large number of those will be people in their 80s and 90s who are going to need a lot of caring on the physical side as well as in relation to their dementia.

“In terms of younger people with dementia, we need to be thinking of residential resources for the whole region.’’

Prof Woods added: ‘‘With any new unit, we should be thinking about a small domestic scale. We don’t want to go back to the large institutions that people worked so hard to replace.”