Two support groups seen as a ‘lifeline’ for dementia sufferers and their carers in the Sleaford area are facing closure after a decision to pull the plug on NHS funding.
The Singing for the Brain group meets monthly at The Source in Southgate and helps sufferers to enjoy singing along to favourite songs from relevant eras to jog memories.
A second dementia sufferers’ activities group meets at St Denys’ Church Hall. Both are funded by the Dementia Support Network, which in turn is jointly funded by the NHS in Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire County Council.
John Maddison, 67, of Tennyson Avenue, Sleaford, attends the groups with wife Jane, also 67, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia two years ago - one of the most aggressive forms of the condition. He said the activity group gets members gardening, playing ball games and colouring - all for free.
Mr Maddison said the groups are mainly run by volunteers and said members are prepared to go it alone if necessary.
He said: “We are prepared to pay for the teas and coffees and contribute to things. We are looking to break away from the network but we need insurance for hiring rooms and detailed figures for running costs to seek funding.”
He added: “We need to keep this going. It is a lifeline.”
Mr Maddison said supporters could not wait until the funding ceased in December to take action - stating ‘we need to be getting a business plan in place’.
Colin Warren, head of commissioning, mental health, at South West Lincolnshire CCG, said: “We have a finite budget and it is not possible for us to continue to fund all services for those who suffer with dementia.
“We will continue to work with the Dementia Action Alliances and the Dementia Family Support Service to ensure that patients still receive the support that they need.”
The Alzheimer’s Society delivers the services for the groups and Phil Measures, its services manager, said: “We are doing all we can to make sure that the people affected by these closures have all the information and support they need to find alternative services in the area. We will of course be happy to offer encouragement and advice to anyone who is looking to establish similar support in the Sleaford area.”
He added: “People with dementia in the Sleaford area can still attend our Dementia Café, as well as accessing the county-wide services such as the Dementia Family Support Service and Alzheimer’s Society’s Side by Side service.”
People can also contact Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline or online forum ‘Talking Point’.
As part-funder, the county council has pledged to continue funding dementia support schemes.
Coun Patricia Bradwell, executive member for Adult Care, commented: “It’s false economy to decommission dementia services.”