Man with Parkinson's disease 'will be left isolated' if Hampshire day centre closes, wife says

  • ITV News Meridian's Kerry Swain spoke to Richard Hickman and his wife about the impact the closure will have

The wife of a man with severe Parkinson's disease says the closure of a day centre in Hampshire will leave him "isolated".

Richard Hickman, 57, and his wife Amanda Hickman rely on the Nightingale Living Well Centre in Romsey for physical and emotional support.

The centre is also the only place Richard can have a bath because it has a wet room and staff who can support him.

The centre, which is run by Hampshire County Council, provides care for adults with long term health conditions as well as physical or learning disabilities.

It is due to close at the end of March, just 10 months after it opened, as the council says the demand is low making it financially unviable.

The centre is the only place Richard can have a bath. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Richard was diagnosed with severe, complex, progressive Parkinson's disease on his 50th birthday. Before his diagnosis, he was an HGV driver.

Amanda Hickman, Richard's wife, said: "He's lost his licence, he had an HGV1 licence, he was a bus driver, it's all been taken away from him so the only thing he has now is the living well centre.

"It's so that Richard can go there and communicate with other people otherwise if he doesn't talk, he doesn't communicate he becomes more isolated.

"We did have a look at other places which didn't meet his needs, he's only 57 he doesn't want to be treated just like somebody with a load of health needs he wants the social aspect."

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: "Following careful consideration, the County Council has taken the difficult decision that the pilot day care scheme currently provided at Nightingale Living Well Centre in Romsey will end in March 2023.

"The new service that was being trialled was designed to offer local people the opportunity to access trusted care during the day, primarily on a 'pay as you go' basis, filling a potential gap in the market.

"However, post-pandemic, it is clear that the demand for day care has reduced - even where we have sought to develop a more innovative model - a trend being seen across day care for older adults in the public and private sector.

"Despite the very best efforts of the local care team, with wider support from partner organisations, demand for the service has remained low - a situation which makes continuing funding of the service, financially unviable.

"We understand that this is difficult news and would wish to reassure the small number of people currently using the service that we will do all we can to help them to find suitable alternative support that meets their individual care needs."

Wendy Johnstone, who has Lewy body dementia, uses the centre.

Barry Johnstone, whose wife Wendy has Lewy body dementia, says the respite provided by the centre is essential: "I wouldn't be able to cope, my health was suffering, I had to do something because I would have ended up in hospital."

Jo Adamson, Wendy's daughter, said: "It's going to be confusing for my mum who's already confused, she's made friends at the centre and I think it's going to be disruptive for her."

Families claim the council has failed to publicise the service.

Jo added: "I actually work in a GP surgery in Romsey and I asked one of the GPs today if they knew about the day care centre and they did not."