A new report outlines flaws in the hospital care of dementia patients

A report has been published from the Alzheimer’s Society, pointing out a number of flaws in the hospital care of those with dementia.

It comes just a week after the news broke that patients with dementia are being prescribed antipsychotics inappropriately and the subsequent side effects lead to 1,800 deaths a year.

Dementia, is the global impairment of mental functioning, this occurs in a clear consciousness and is usually progressive.

The condition is usually caused by cerebrovascular disease (a problem with the blood vessels in the brain e.g. a stroke) or Alzheimer’s, the cause of Alzheimer’s is unknown but it is likely to be due to genetic factors.

Dementia affects a person’s memory and causes them to become disorientated, the person’s awareness is lost and the disease also changes a person’s personality and behaviour.

The combination of symptoms places pressure on the staff responsible for the care of dementia patients.

The report form the Alzheimer’s Society outlines failures in the care of dementia patients and was determined by questionnaires from over 2,000 carers and nurses.

It stated that people with dementia occupy 1 in 4 hospital beds and they stay longer in hospital than patients without dementia. Not only does this cost the NHS but it has a negative effect on the patients symptoms and physical health.

More than 1 in 3 dementia patients are discharged to a care home despite living at home prior to admission.

1 in 4 nurse managers and nursing staff felt antipsychotic drugs were inappropriately prescribed.

Carer’s determined the main problems were, a lack of:

  • Understanding of dementia by staff
  • Individual care
  • Help with eating and drinking
  • Social interaction
  • Involvement in decision making
  • Dignity and respect

Nursing staff felt the main concerns were:

  • Managing difficult behaviour
  • Communicating
  • A lack of time to spend with patients

The report suggests that the number of people with dementia being cared for in hospitals should be reduced. This means funding should shift into community care.

It also suggests carers, friends and family should be involved in the care and decision making process. And a individual care plan should exist for each patient, which focuses on the patients likes and dislikes.

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