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Bluestone Unit to house inpatient dementia unit under trust proposal  

Patients at the former inpatient unit in Armagh were transferred to Craigavon in May 2022 due to staff shortages

There are plans to create a specialist inpatient dementia unit at the Bluestone Mental Health Unit, Craigavon Area Hospital.

The recommendation was made by the board of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

The decision was taken following a three-month public consultation on the future of inpatient dementia services in the trust area which ran from October 3, 2022 until December 23, 2022.

The number of people with dementia is the trust area is expected to rise substantially within the next nine years.

The specialist inpatient dementia unit will be created within the Bluestone Mental Health unit either via the use of existing space or through extension of the existing facility.

The Southern Trust had a stand-alone inpatient dementia assessment and treatment unit on the Gillis Ward, St Luke’s Hospital, Armagh.

In May 2022, patients in Gillis Ward were relocated to Willows ward in the Bluestone Unit, as an interim contingency arrangement to ensure patient safety and quality of care when consultant psychiatry cover could not be secured.

Jan Mc Gall, director of mental health and disability, said: “I want to thank all those who participated in this consultation process and for their responses on this important local issue.

“By 2032, the Southern Trust is expected to have the highest number of individuals registered with dementia over 65.

“We need to make changes now that will ensure we can continue to provide safe and effective care for these vulnerable patients into the future.

“The creation of a specialist inpatient dementia unit, co-located with the wider mental health and disability inpatient service at the Bluestone Unit, Craigavon Hospital, will offer increased access to medical and wider multi-disciplinary teams in one location and ensure safe, sustainable services for the Southern Trust population.”

The Department of Health will be notified of the board’s recommendation.

A trust spokesperson said the recommendation will be subject to consideration by the department’s strategic planning and performance group.

“Pending endorsement of the board’s decision the trust will develop a business case to secure the necessary capital investment to develop the proposed new unit,” she said.

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