At Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s cabinet, members approved a plan to create the new 12-bed service using money from the existing budget.
The meeting heard that dementia was one of the biggest pressures on the county’s care system, with no specialist care service currently available in the county.
According to the Alzheimers Society, as of 2051 there will be more than two million people living with dementia in the UK alone, with a prevalence of 7.1 per cent in over-65s. The condition costs the UK £26.3bn a year.
Council officer Neil Bradley said: “Dementia is one of the biggest pressures on us. There is no specialist dementia care in Northumberland. We currently have 30 people in two specialist care facilities in Newcastle.
“The benefits include not having to move people out of the area and being able to improve patients behaviour and move them back into mainstream care.
“All the evidence suggests this problem is going to get worse rather than better. We will fill this establishment.”
Coun Wendy Pattison, cabinet member for Adults Wellbeing, said: “There is no doubt we’re seeing an increase in people with dementia. I am fully supportive of the option in this report to provide a 12-bed service in an existing care home to provide a highly specialist service.”
The plans were welcomed by other members, including the council’s deputy leader, Coun Richard Wearmouth, who spoke candidly of his own relative’s experiences with the condition .
He said: “This is a really important subject to get to grips with. It’s something that will be affecting our communities more and more.
“I have had a number of elderly relatives who have suffered with Alzheimers and Dementia. It is the most testing thing you can go through in life, it puts so much pressure on families and individuals.
“One relative in particular was in a terrible condition and was in a facility at St George’s Hospital – it was a specialist dementia care facility at the time. What the staff had to endure – it’s not nice way to talk about it, but I do hope that they have the equipment, facilities and staff needed to deal with this.”