CALLS have been made to extend the opening times at a vital dementia centre.

This week St Helens Council’s health and adult social care overview and scrutiny panel heard a presentation regarding day care provision for people with dementia.

Pauline McGrath, assistant director for schools and social care support and mental health commissioning for St Helens CCG, also updated members on the delivery of the government’s National Dementia Strategy.

She said that in 2018-19, the expected prevalence of people with dementia in St Helens is 2378, with 1859 people being diagnosed to date.

One of the services that supports people with dementia in the borough is the Kershaw Day Support Centre in Newton-le-Willows.

The centre, which recently won a national award, is currently attended by around 60 people a day with a range of care and support needs.

Andrew Waugh, the centre's manager, told the panel that he did not agree with the decision to only open during the day.

Mr Waugh said: “The centre openings is currently nine to five. That’s something I don’t agree with.

“I don’t believe that somebody with dementia, stops having dementia at five o’clock.”

A consultation was previously held with care staff about opening the centre during evenings and weekends, but a decision was taken not to pursue the plans.

Mr Waugh believes the time is right to try again.

“A couple of years ago we explored with carers, through consultation and service users the option of opening weekends and evenings," Mr Waugh said.

“At that time there wasn’t enough interest in doing so but now I believe the time’s right because we’re seeing a younger generation of carers coming through.

“And I think it’s time to discuss that, to consult with them again about that option, with our commissioners and dementia colleagues.”

Labour councillor John Wiseman said looking at extending the opening hours should be a “priority” for the council and the CCG.

Cllr Wiseman, ward member for Bold, said: “I can’t think of something more important than supporting the most vulnerable people in society.

“And as a council we need to be prioritising those sorts of people and making sure we’re providing those core services – which I know we are doing – and making sure that if there is an opportunity to move to that, then we move to that straight away."