Fix dementia care: NHS and care homes

Fix dementia care: NHS and care homes

Alzheimer’s Society has issued a report which highlights concerns about the NHS health care that people with dementia, who live in care homes, are receiving. Under the NHS Constitution, everyone should have free and equal access to NHS services, but the report has found that this isn’t happening. A summary of the findings include:

  • One in five care homes are being wrongly charged by GP practices for services that should be free. In the worst cases, care homes have been incorrectly charged up to £36,000 a year. The average GP charge to a care home is £12,191, which is enough to fund care for a person with dementia for nearly six months.
  • 44% of care home managers do not believe that the health services provide residents with dementia with adequate and timely access to NHS secondary care. For example, 50 per cent of areas across England are not providing the continence services that they should to all care home residents. Good continence management, podiatry, and dentistry ensure dignity for people with dementia and it minimises distress.
  • 45% of care home managers disagree that the health service provides residents with dementia with adequate and timely access to mental health services.

Hilda Hayo, Chief Admiral Nurse and CEO Dementia UK comments on the report:

“This report highlights the urgent need for more joined up health and social care, where primary and secondary care service providers work together to ensure that people living with dementia have the equal access to good quality services that they are entitled to – be it if that person lives in their own home, a care home, or are a patient in hospital.

Post-diagnostic support for people living with dementia can sometimes be complex. We need more dementia experts and specialists, to help advise and work with GP practices, and health and social care providers, to ensure the person with dementia and their family carer have their physical and mental health conditions fully assessed and treated, both fairly and without unnecessary monetary charges being applied.

Admiral Nurses, who are specialist dementia nurses, play a unique role in case management by joining up the different parts of the health and social care system, and help the needs of people with dementia and their family carers to be addressed in a co-ordinated way. They have the clinical expertise and knowledge to ensure that the person with dementia and their family carers receive the health care that they are entitled to along with the support services that are needed to ensure their well-being and dignity. However, with only 168 Admiral Nurses across the country, more are urgently needed to ensure that an equal and good quality service is provided to all people living with dementia and their family carers regardless of where they live.”