Plans for The Bungalow take shape

Posted on 11th January, 2013

Members of the Honiton Older People’s Mental Health Stakeholder Group discussed the latest developments regarding the re-opening of The Bungalow at their December meeting. Summarising the current position, Devon Partnership NHS Trust’s Donna Bell, who manages community mental health services for older people in Exeter, East and Mid Devon, said:  “The plans for the site have now been signed off, the finances have been agreed and work at the site should commence in the near future.  We are hoping that the redevelopment of The Bungalow will be completed by the end of the summer.  “When it is up-and-running, the site will provide a range of outpatient services, clinics, therapeutic programmes and educational groups for local people.  It will also be the
work-base for mental health staff in East Devon supporting both adults and older people, and this means that staff currently based at Churchill House in Honiton will relocate there.  “In terms of older people with mental health needs, those in the very early stages of dementia are likely to be seen for an initial assessment and diagnosis at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E).  Here, they will undergo a comprehensive assessment of their physical and mental health, including any diagnostic tests that are necessary, such as brain scans.  Follow-up care, ongoing support, advice, education and group activity for people with dementia and a wide variety of other mental health problems will be provided at The Bungalow for many people, but others will continue to receive support in their own homes, as they do now. “We know that parking is likely to be a very important issue to the people using The Bungalow, our staff and the neighbouring hospital and GP practice.  As with most NHS sites, space is at a premium but we are working with Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, which owns the property, to make parking a priority issue and we will do our best to resolve it to the satisfaction of everyone concerned.” Commenting on the latest developments, Chair of Honiton Locality Health and Care Team, Vernon Whitlock, said:  “It is good news for the town that after being closed for three years, The Bungalow will soon return to providing locally-based care for adults of all ages with mental health needs.  Our group has a specific interest in the support available for older people and we are confident that The Bungalow will be an invaluable resource for the town in this respect when it re-opens.  "Whilst we are disappointed that the initial assessment for people with very early-stage dementia will be in Exeter, which clearly has implications in terms of travel for some people, it does reflect the fact that referrals for dementia are now being treated with the same rigour and seriousness as those for other major diseases, such as cancer and coronary heart disease.   The thorough assessment and diagnosis will be conducted in a single day under one roof at the RD&E, and people will then be followed-up at The Bungalow or at home. “The issue of parking remains to be resolved and we know that the current parking problems at the hospital and surgery will increase with the opening of The Bungalow.  We are pleased to hear, however, that Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and Devon Partnership NHS Trust recognise our concerns and are working together to address the issue." The Honiton Older People’s Mental Health Stakeholder Group includes representatives from health and social care agencies, local GP practice, carers, community representatives and the voluntary sector.  The local lay representatives are Val Royle, Heather Penwarden, Vernon Whitlock, Alf Boom and Elli Pang.