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Providing more dementia assessment closer to home

​More patients with dementia will be able to receive assessment closer to home after Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) reconfigures its specialist beds in Norfolk and Waveney.

The Trust is reconfiguring its services for people with mental health problems and dementia at the Julian Hospital in Norwich, including two wards at neighbouring Hammerton Court, as well as at Carlton Court in Lowestoft.

As a result, the allocation of beds is changing from the current split – of 48 longer term care beds and 13 assessment beds – to a new ratio of 35 care beds to 26 assessment beds.

The change will allow NSFT to meet increasing demand for dementia assessment beds while reducing the need for people to travel further afield, in turn improving the experience they have when accessing care and ensuring they are assessed quickly and effectively.

In addition, it will give staff the opportunity to use the longer-term care beds – which will be on the Rose Ward at Hammerton Court and at Carlton Court – more flexibly. The change will also see four of the wards become single sex only, while the fifth – the Laurel Ward at Carlton Court – will remain as mixed sex as it fully complies with the latest single sex accommodation standards.

It comes as part of a wider review to ensure NSFT’s beds and resources are used more effectively and in the best possible way to meet local needs, which has shown the importance of dedicated assessment beds.

Debbie White, Director of Operations in Norfolk, said: “Demand for dementia assessment beds has continued to grow over recent years, which means we have had to look for different ways to deliver services so that we can continue to meet the needs of all of our patients. This reconfiguration will allow us to offer urgent assessment more quickly and to more patients closer to home, without the need for them to travel further afield.

“Research and patient results also show us that assessing people and getting them home with the right support in place leads to better outcomes. At the same time, this frees up beds for those in greater clinical needs, which supports the wider improvements we are making to both older people’s services as well as crisis care.

“In addition, this change will give us the opportunity to use our longer-term care beds flexibly so that we can better meet the changing needs of our patients.

“We are working closely with our patients and their families and will complete the transition gradually over the next few weeks to make sure that any patient transfers, including discharges back into the community, are carried out safely and appropriately.”

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