Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is introducing a new approach to dementia assessment and treatment for patients in Yeovil and the surrounding areas in response to continued difficulties in recruiting registered mental health nurses to Magnolia Ward.
In July, Magnolia Ward, a seven bed dementia assessment unit in Yeovil, will close on a temporary basis. The Trust will open additional dementia beds at Pyrland Ward in Taunton which specialises in the treatment of older patients suffering from dementia and has a team of specialist nurses, doctors and therapists.
Further support for local patients will be available via additional dementia nursing home beds to be commissioned in the South Somerset area along with a new 7-day community outreach service will be launched in Yeovil and the surrounding areas so that people with dementia and their carers can be supported in their own homes. The aims of this new community service will be, as far as possible, to keep people supported in the comfort of their own home and avoid hospital which can often result in increased disorientation and a higher chance of falling for people with dementia.
Andy Heron, Chief Operating Officer, explained the decision and said:
“We have been monitoring nursing vacancies closely at Magnolia Ward over the last year as the team struggled to recruit mental health nurses from the surrounding area and further afield. Having exhausted all recruitment possibilities we were becoming increasingly concerned about our ability to maintain safe nursing levels on every shift at Magnolia Ward and also our increasing reliance on agency staff who do not always know the patients or the ward environment as well as permanent staff when they cover a shift.
“We have decided to end the ongoing uncertainty and to temporarily consolidate older peoples’ inpatient beds onto one site in Somerset. We are also using this opportunity to launch a new 7 day community outreach service of a kind that has been successfully operating in many parts of England for a number of years but will be trialled for the first time in Yeovil.
The development of this service is being led by our senior clinical staff in Yeovil who are convinced that this new innovative approach can make a real difference for patients with dementia and their carers.
“This is a temporary measure and we will now consider the long term options for mental health services in the county. But let me restate our commitment to our Yeovil inpatient site - it remains central to our plans for the future and we are committed to having two inpatient wards operating in the years ahead."
These changes to services will come into effect during July and Somerset Partnership intends to provide enough time for current inpatients to complete their treatment on Magnolia Ward before it closes.
Andy Heron continued:
“While the timing of this change has been driven by concerns for patient safety, we are confident that this new approach to dementia services, designed by senior clinicians and piloted with our Yeovil patients, has the potential to make a real difference for patients and their carers.
“We are grateful to our partners at Yeovil District Hospital for their support in developing this new service model. They have a strong track record for innovating new services and our aim is to closely integrate our new team alongside their services.”