[This abstract first appeared in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter RWHT Volume 1 Issue 7 February 2011].
Approximately 750,000 people in the UK have dementia, and two-thirds of these live at home with support from family and/or social services. A new Alzheimer’s Society report – based on feedback from carers, health workers and patients – asserts that home support given to a quarter of a million people with dementia and their carers is an “absolute travesty” and itself generates unnecessary admissions to hospital and care homes. Sub-standard care results in 50,000 people being forced into care homes early, and each avoidable month spent by these people in care costs the government £70 million. Tens of thousands are admitted to hospital unnecessarily.
Better training of staff and improved access to services in the UK are necessary to help people remain in their own homes. Respite care, allowing carers periodic breaks, is often lacking, and there is too little joined up working between the NHS and social care. Local authorities are using stricter criteria for eligibility to social care support. Each dementia patient requires a proper assessment and a personalised care plan to ensure he/she receives the right medication and support.
Commissioners should invest long-term in dementia services and training which are geared to keeping people out of hospitals and care homes, which would thereby avoid many of these human and financial costs; saving the NHS and councils vast amounts of money.
The report “Support. Stay. Save. Care and support of people with dementia in their own homes” is based on a survey of 1,436 people with dementia and carers and 989 home care workers. It found (quotation):
“50% of people with dementia who live at home aren’t getting the care and support they need.
1 in 10 carers said poor care resulted in the person with dementia having an avoidable admission into hospital.
1 in 10 carers said poor care resulted in the person with dementia going into residential care earlier than expected.
52% of carers said they weren’t receiving enough care and support to help them fulfil their caring role. This has a negative impact on their health and the health of the person with dementia.
83% of carers say living at home is very important to the person with dementia.
44% of carers said the person with dementia was receiving enough care and support. Around half of these people believed this had a positive impact on symptoms of dementia and on carer health.
Only 10% of home care workers think the care and support people with dementia receive in their own homes meets all their needs”.
Triggle, N. Dementia home support an absolute travesty. BBC News, Health, January 25th 2011.
The full report:
Support. Stay. Save. Care and support of people with dementia in their own homes. London: Alzheimer’s Society, January 2011.