Dementia patient care criticised
Angela Rippon on her mother’s experience of dementia care
Half of all dementia patients leave hospital in a worse state than when they arrive, it is claimed.
The Alzheimer’s Society says patients with dementia stay far longer than patients being treated for the same illness or injury without dementia.
It wants their stays cut by a week, saying it will save the health service millions of pounds.
The government said it had already asked NHS hospitals to take urgent action on this issue.
The Alzheimer’s Society blames longer stays on a lack of communication, which can exacerbate problems associated with dementia, such as incontinence.
It says there is a need for better clinical leadership, training of nurses to deal with dementia patients and better co-ordination of support services to allow the patient to come out of hospital.
The Alzheimer’s Society questioned 1,300 carers who looked after dementia patients and 1,100 nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Alzheimer’s Scotland said the situation there was not dissimilar.
Ann Reid’s mother, Peggy Belcher, was confused and frightened in hospital
Nurses left sign saying: ‘You are not well, you need to stay in hospital. Just sit there, rest, relax and don’t bang the table’
The main reasons for a hospital stay were falls, broken hips or hip replacements, urine infections, chest infections and strokes.
The average length of a hospital stay is about a week but more than half (57%) of dementia patients with a broken or fractured hip stayed two weeks or more.
For urinary tract infections more than half (53%) stayed two weeks or more.
Nearly half of the carers (47%) said being in hospital had a significantly negative effect on the general physical health of the person with dementia.
And more than half (54%) said being in hospital had made the symptoms of dementia worse.
Most of the nurses (89%) said they found working with people with dementia challenging and 80% said they wanted more access to specialist advice.
The society said most of the hundreds of millions of pounds currently spent on dementia in hospitals could be more effectively invested in workforce development and community services outside the hospital.
Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It is shocking that people with dementia are occupying up to a quarter of hospital beds yet there are scandalous variations in the quality of dementia care in hospital.