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Health & social care failing patients with dementia

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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The health and social care system is struggling to deal with patients with dementia according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which has just published its Care Update (Issue 2: March 2013).

According to the CQC’s findings, in 78 of 151 Primary Care Trusts, care home residents living with dementia are more likely to be admitted to hospital with avoidable conditions like UTIs, dehydration, pressure sores, severe malnutrition and fractures than residents without dementia.

Where patients with dementia were admitted as an emergency they stayed in hospital for longer than a patient in a similar condition without dementia in 96% of hospital trusts. Patients with dementia were also more likely to die in hospital than those without dementia and the CQC found that this was particularly the case where the original admission was for an elective (non emergency) procedure.

Surprisingly, the CQC’s investigation revealed that it is younger people who are suffering the most. The CQC’s figures show that people aged 18 to 54 who have dementia are more likely to stay in longer after emergency surgery, be readmitted and to die in hospital than patients of their age without dementia when compared to patients with/without dementia aged 75+.

The CQC also found that 76% of patients with dementia aged between 18 and 54 did not have their condition recorded in their notes for their most recent hospital admission compared to only 24% of the over 75s.

The CQC concluded that there should be better integration across health and social care services and whilst some services had improved compared to previous inspections, some care homes and community services still had a way to go before good care was being provided in all cases.

The NHS Confederation’s Chief Executive called the situation “wholly unacceptable” and the Alzheimer’s Society has said that dementia care in hospitals needs to be improved with all staff trained in dementia care and that “tolerating inaction on dementia care even a day longer is tantamount to playing Russian roulette with the lives of people with the condition”. 

By clinical negligence solicitor, Kerry Barlow