Advising with empathy and experience

Crisis in Dementia Care

A report has revealed that the UK care system is not prepared to deal with the exponential increase of dementia sufferers expected in the coming years.  Days before World Alzheimer’s Day, experts have warned that the healthcare system may reach saturation point in coming years.

Dementia is a collective term for a number of illnesses that relate to a loss of cognitive function, it is prevalent in the elderly and most commonly found in those over 65. There are estimated to be 800,000 sufferers in the UK. Over the past thirty years residents in care homes who suffer from dementia has increased from twenty per cent to eighty per cent. 

Recently the government has doubled the research funding of the leading dementia related illness, Alzheimer’s. The condition, which has no known cure, currently costs the NHS £23 billion a year, double the cost of cancer.

Clive Ballard, the director of research at Alzheimer’s society stated “We will be accepting a model of neglect, because that’s the only one possible “.

These warnings come at a time when quality of current Care Home provision has been called into question. Abuse and neglect in Care Homes has been highlighted in television coverage. Furthermore a health and social care watchdog uncovered that more than half of all care homes (fifty two per cent) failed to meet essential standards of care and only twenty five per cent of homes were passed with no concerns at all. 

The challenges for health and social care provision at a time of austerity are profound. Janet Crampton, a former DoH Programme Manager is now leading a report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on how to make York a “dementia-friendly” City. She raises the issue of the expectations raised by early diagnosis and questions whether it has a value if there is little on offer in terms of treatment or care. She warns that “Statutory agencies aren’t good at planning ahead; we have all the statistics, but they aren’t necessarily investing in the future”.

Rachel Griffiths, a member of the CNCI team echoes these concerns “We see cases of poor quality care, abuse and neglect in Care Homes. We also act for many individuals who have to fight to secure the NHS funded care they are entitled to. Dementia sufferers are very vulnerable. They need specialist care and support. The problems present in the current system must be tackled if we are to deliver and maintain safe and appropriate provision for the future”.


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