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Wards 'need dementia champions'

Published on 13 March 2013 11:30 AM

Calls have been made for the introduction of hospital 'dementia champions' after the health watchdog raised concerns about the care of patients suffering with the syndrome.


People with dementia who live in care homes are more likely to be admitted to hospital with avoidable conditions such as urinary tract infections, pressure sores and dehydration and, once there, have a higher risk of staying there longer, being readmitted or dying.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), whose findings were based on 20,000 inspections of local health authorities and trusts across England conducted in 2012, said the health and social care system is 'struggling' to cope.

In 78 out of 151 local health authorities, people with dementia who lived in care homes were admitted to hospital for an avoidable reason 'significantly more' than people without dementia.

In 96% of hospital trusts people with dementia stayed longer than those without the condition, and in 85% of trusts people with dementia were 'significantly more likely' to die in hospital than people without dementia.

The report also found that almost a third of hospital admissions for people with the condition did not include a record of their dementia, even though it had been identified in the past, leading the CQC to call for 'better identification of dementia' and comprehensive training for care staff.

'Dementia champions are needed'

The Alzheimer's Society said a 'dementia champion' should be dedicated to each ward. Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the charity, said: 'This report lays bare the scandalous extent to which the NHS is failing people with dementia. Hospitals are supposed to be places of recovery but people with dementia are going in too often, staying too long and dying in a hospital bed much more than those with any other condition.'

The CQC's Care Update also raises concerns about services for people with mental health issues and learning disabilities, saying too many independent mental health and learning disability services are not delivering care that 'puts people first'.

CQC chief executive David Behan said: 'The majority of services are delivering good quality care. However, care providers must do more to make sure that care is based on people's individual needs. This Care Update draws attention to two areas where this is not happening.

'The people in charge of care homes and hospitals must work better, individually and together to ensure the right services are in place for people with dementia and their staff must be trained to identify dementia.'

Providing the care we'd want our loved ones to have

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK underlined that caring for people with dementia needs empathy and sensitivity, as well as a joined up approach between health and social care services.

She commented: 'All health and care services need to be geared up to helping people with dementia and this must mean ensuring people have the right care and support so they don't end up having a spell in hospital when that could have been avoided.

'All training, commissioning and day-to-day decisions around an individual's care should always come back to providing that person with the same standard of care that we would want to see given to our loved ones.'

Copyright Press Association 2013

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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