A new report by the Alzheimer’s Society shines the spotlight on appalling examples of poor care, including dementia patients spending hours on end in soiled clothing because carers are unable to calm their agitation enough to help them change. The Society claims those living with the condition are being let down by the very people who are supposed to care for them due to a severe lack of training among domiciliary care workers.
Meanwhile, infections are going unnoticed and some people with the condition are being left to walk outside and into the middle of the road at night as their home was not left secure.
Other care failures have been highlighted in the report including: people not being supported to eat or drink, dementia patients not given a bath or shower for weeks and carers leaving sufferers to sleep in wet or soiled bed sheets.
There are now 400,000 dementia patients who receive care in their homes but very few visiting care workers have been trained on how to reduce the impact of the condition.
The Alzheimer’s Society said that the “desperate” situation must be addressed urgently.
It is difficult to comprehend how the social care sector has got itself into this appalling situation. As I have said in previous blog articles there is a definite drive by local authorities (borne out by evidence), to strategically reduce the allocation of funding for domiciliary care. The government continue to dodge the issue placing the burden on local authorities who in turn claim they are strapped for cash.
This situation is even more grave when one considers a recent Health Authority Report which showed that there are now more people dying from Alzheimer’s / Dementia than there are from heart disease. A survey of care workers, conducted in partnership with the union Unison, found that 38% of care staff had not received dementia training. Given the current funding situation the lack of training cannot be laid at the provider’s door. A Department of Health spokeswoman said “Over 100,000 social care workers have already received dementia awareness training. But those of us who work in the care sector know there is wide difference between awareness training and the equipping staff with the skills to provide a quality service for people with dementia.
In my opinion the situation will not change until the Government sees the importance of social care in a similar light as the health service and an acknowledgement of their interdependence. If people with dementia are to receive a proper service, then realistic funding should be made available to providers with ring fenced money for dementia training of staff.
If the most important benchmark of any civilized society is how it cares for its vulnerable and needy, then the governments needs to take stock of how it funds domiciliary care services for people who suffer from dementia.
Albert Cook Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy