The charity are launching a new campaign – Fix Dementia Care – to highlight issue of varying quality of care in hospitals for people with dementia.
A new report by the Alzheimer’s Society is calling on hospitals in the UK to improve their care for patients with dementia, after a survey found 92 per cent of people affected by dementia found hospital environments frightening.
They also identified a range of challenges which could lead to a worsening of dementia symptoms, and increase the risk of them being discharged into residential care, rather than their own home. These included being discharged at night and being marooned in hospital despite their medical treatment having finished.
The report, Fix Dementia Care, was compiled after Freedom of Information requests uncovered massive variations in the quality of care in England.
Some of the findings showed real issues surrounding fall risks while in hospital. In one trust, 702 people with dementia fell during 2014-15, which is the equivalent of two falls a day. This is a worrying statistic because analysis has shown that if someone with dementia falls while in hospital, they will spend nearly four times as long there which then increases the likelihood of them being discharged into residential care.
Likewise, being discharged at night can be extremely disorientating for someone with dementia and care homes are often closed, or unwilling to take residents in at this time. But it was happening in the majority of hospitals, with around 4-5 people per week leaving hospital overnight.
With conservative estimates suggesting a quarter of hospital beds are occupied by someone with dementia at any one time, it’s vital that hospitals take steps to prepare for and understand the needs of someone with dementia.
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘Good dementia care should never be a throw of the dice – yet people are forced to gamble with their health every time they are admitted to hospital.
‘Poor care can have devastating, life-changing consequences. Starving because you can’t communicate to hospital staff that you are hungry, or falling and breaking a hip because you’re confused and no-one’s around to help, can affect whether you stand any chance of returning to your own home or not.
‘We must urgently put a stop to the culture where it’s easier to find out about your local hospital finances than the quality of care you’ll receive if you have dementia. We are encouraging everyone to get behind our campaign to improve transparency and raise the bar on quality.’
In their Fix Dementia Care report and campaign, the Society is making the following recommendations:
1. All hospitals should publish an annual statement of dementia care, which includes feedback from patients with dementia, helping to raise standards of care across the country.
2. Regulators such as the Care Quality Commission should include standards of dementia care in their assessments.
The Alzheimer’s Society plan to look at three key dementia care settings during 2016 to see at ways they can be improved, including in hospital, in care homes and in the home.