May 20 2013 Latest news:
By EMMA YOULE, Reporter
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
HARINGEY Council’s plans to close old folks homes has left one expert warning of the risk of “transplantation shock” among elderly residents.
Consultant clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst RACHAEL DAVENHILL is director of Age Matters, a training and consultancy service focused on mental health in the second half of life, based in Swains Lane, Highgate.
She has been left with pressing concerns about Haringey Council’s plans to close Cranwood Home in Woodside Avenue, Muswell Hill, Broadwater Lodge in Higham Road, Tottenham, and Red House Care Home in West Green Road, South Tottenham, collectively home to 100 elderly people.
Here she explains to the Journal why moving older people from residential homes poses substantial risks.
“Haringey’s plans to close all old people’s homes by 2013 raises the spectre of ‘Transplantation Shock’ - the experience of older people who find themselves being moved suddenly from one form of long-term care to another.
To move residents without continuity of staff care is akin to kicking the crutch away from someone who can’t walk very well. That is why sudden relocation to a new setting, with new staff and insufficient preparation, is dangerous and life threatening.
Research evidence indicates that the first three months following any move are the most dangerous in terms of increased mortality rates in residents with dementia over the age of 80.
Research also tells us what helps when closures are unavoidable: staff and residents being involved in extensive resettlement programmes and being moved as an intact unit together. This can mitigate some of the effects of uprooted attachments and separation anxiety.
If we measure a civilised society by the way it treats the needs of the most vulnerable, we are entering a dangerous time indeed for older people in this country. We saw transplantation shock during waves of home closures in the 1980s and 1990s with rate capping. Without sufficient care we will see it again now.
When slash and burn cuts kick in, it is the most vulnerable who get killed off. If you are old, have dementia and have no strong advocate, and even if you do, then you are in the land of the most vulnerable.
We are all getting older. Let us use our combined and unremitting powers of persuasion to engage with government, with funding bodies and with each other to ensure that humane care for vulnerable older people is not killed off in the next round of cuts. Local communities can work intelligently with managers and residents of local nursing homes to ensure advocacy.”