Hopefully, you’ve heard of our plans to build and run a Complex Needs Nursing Care Unit in Jersey. The reason the Island requires such a unit is clear: we know that around 1,600 people are currently living with a form of dementia in Jersey, but probably only half of them have received a diagnosis. We also know that the number of people with dementia is likely to double in the next 20 years as Islanders live longer and more of us reach old age.
If we consider that people with learning disabilities are five times more likely to develop dementia than the general population, then the above statistics become very worrying for Les Amis, the people we support and the Island in general. It is why this new unit is not just desirable, but essential.
Dementia nursing facilities in Jersey are currently full and there’s very little capacity for adults with complex needs. The new unit will provide long-term residential accommodation to adults with learning disabilities who have nursing needs and may have also developed complex needs or dementia.
You’ll probably also be aware that, up until last year, we did have a site earmarked for the unit in St Clement, which would have been built by the Jersey Homes Trust as part of a bigger residential project on an old farm complex. Unfortunately, Planning rejected our application, so we had to go back to the drawing board. We are incredibly grateful for the Jersey Homes Trust’s support on this project, who stood by our side right up to the final refusal.
Although we still need to find a suitable site, we’re confident we soon will, so our plans are moving on unhindered. Our fundraising continues: we have already raised, or been pledged, over £340,000, with a £500,000 target, so we’re definitely moving in the right direction. Clearly we still need more funds, so we’re actively engaging with potential investors and raising funds in practical and innovative ways. Next month’s raffle of a new Volkswagen Camper van is a perfect example of effective fundraising that thousands of Islanders want to be a part of.
Of course, the demand for complex needs care doesn’t go away just because we don’t yet have a unit. We’re recruiting heavily at the moment, not only to make sure we can address current – and rising – demand, but also to ensure that we are fully prepared for when the new unit is built. Our plans remain fully supported by the States. Amongst other roles, we are currently recruiting for a Senior Nurse, who will be able to strengthen the care we provide and will be instrumental in the co-ordination of staff for the Complex Needs Nursing Care Unit.
Whilst I can’t yet share when and where the new unit will be built, I can assure you that our focus is as clear as it always has been; we are fundraising, we are recruiting and we are actively preparing for our next exciting chapter.