Dementia care home to double number of beds

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A DEMENTIA care home in the centre of Bury St Edmunds is to double in size in a bid to tackle its growing waiting list.

St Peter’s House, in Out Risbygate, is currently full and bosses say they are getting three to four inquires for beds every week. Most it simply has to turn down and it has 22 people on its waiting list.

The specialist home will be able to offer an additional 30 bedrooms when a two- storey extension opens next year, almost doubling its capacity.

Suffolk is facing a growing need for dementia care. There are currently 10,210 people in Suffolk aged 65 and over who are diagnosed as suffering from dementia. That figure is predicted to rise to 16,352 by 2025.

The scheme, which will involve the demolition of a former car sales showroom next door, was given planning approval by St Edmundsbury Borough Council last Thursday.

Cllr David Ray welcomed the move saying it would get rid of an ‘eyesore’ while Cllr Sara Mildmay-White said there was a growing need from people with dementia.

“We all know that St Peter’s House does a wonderful job and these facilities are needed and will be needed even more in the future, sadly,” she said.

Although the site falls within a conservation area, officers said it would be an improvement on the existing empty building.

“It is considered that the proposed redevelopment of the vacant car showroom and garage site would enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area,” said planning officer Lesley Walcott in her report.

The site forms part of the old St Peter’s Hospital, which was founded in the early 12th century for the maintenance of infirm and leprous priests.

The only objection to the scheme came from a neighbour who said they would no longer be able to use the site as a dropping off point.

St Peter’s Houses is owned and operated by County Care Homes.

Paul Sutton, head of planning at Cheffins, agents for County Care Homes, said: “We firmly believe that there is a real demonstrable need.”

The company bought the car showroom site three years ago. Mr Sutton said the extension would provide a 30 space car park, new entrance and reception, dining room and a life skills area.

Gareth Nixon-Moss, director of Country Care Homes, said: “I’m delighted the committee recognised the urgent need for dementia care in Bury St Edmunds. A lot of people ring up saying ‘we have got somebody that needs a bed this week’ and we are having to say sorry, we are full and cannot accommodate them.”

Work on the scheme will start later this year.

Mr Nixon-Moss said he expected it to be full within three or four months of opening early next year.