Lynda Bellingham adds her voice to campaign against Haringey’s cuts to dementia care

Charlotte Newton

ACTRESS and broadcaster Lynda Bellingham has accused Haringey Council of “short-sightedness” over its plans to close vital dementia day and residential centres.

Ms Bellingham, 63, who appeared in popular drama All Creatures Great and Small, is also well-known for her husky voice-overs on TV adverts, as a panellist on the ITV lunch time chat show Loose Women and for kicking up her heels on Strictly Come Dancing.

But on Monday she will turn her attention to more serious matters when she attends a meeting at Wood Green Civic Centre to lend her support to a protest against Haringey’s plans to close three dementia day care centres, four drop in centres and four residential care homes in the borough – including one in Muswell Hill, one in Hornsey and two in Crouch End.

The Relatives Support Group, – who all care for relatives with dementia at the Haynes day centre – will make a deputation to Haringey’s overview and scrutiny committee against its plan to merge the Haynes centre in Park Road with the Grange dementia day care centre in Tottenham.

The group is also vehemently opposed to the council’s plans to close the Woodside day care centre in Wood Green, which also cares for people with dementia.

Ms Bellingham, ambassador of the Alzheimer’s Association and a Muswell Hill and Crouch End resident for many years, knows only too well about the devastating effect dementia has on sufferers and their families.

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Both her adoptive and birth mother developed Alzheimer’s.

“If someone you love dies, you mourn them,” Ms Bellingham told the Ham&High. “But the awful thing about dementia is that you live with someone day in and day out who looks like your mother but who isn’t there.

“The whole perception about people ageing and getting slightly dotty and sweetly eccentric is off-set against this horrible disease which robs sufferers of all their dignity. The person you’ve looked up to all your life becomes dependent on you and you’re the one changing their nappy.”

Ms Bellingham (pictured) has spoken out against the council’s plans to merge the centres, saving �52,000. The proposed closure of Woodside would knock �149,000 off its budget.

“To cut now is very short sighted,” Ms Bellingham warned. “There are going to be a huge number of cases of dementia in the next 20 years – already 40 per cent of cases go undiagnosed. Good dementia day care takes the burden off the NHS. It gives carers respite and saves thousands and thousands of pounds from the NHS.”

The Haynes is designed to look after 15 people per day, but Haringey’s officers are proposing to double the occupancy to 30 people per day. Relatives of dementia sufferers are also concerned about the effect of overcrowding at the Haynes, as other day centres close.

Ms Bellingham urged Haringey to scrutinise its budget and find a way of making savings elsewhere.

Haringey Council has been consulting with service users on the future of day care provision in the borough for the past three months.

A council spokeswoman said the consultation period had just finished and the council was in the process of reviewing all of the responses before any decisions would be made. She added: “The Haynes Centre is a relatively new facility, opened in 2009, and we always planned to expand the facility. If we do combine services, staff will be transferred.”