Since my mother, Freda Rose, was diagnosed and sadly passed away with dementia, the plight of those affected has become prominent in my mind.
This year, reports from Alzheimer’s Society and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman emphasised how poor care in hospitals can have devastating, life-changing consequences. Variation in care means too many people with dementia are falling while in hospital or being discharged at night. Many are being marooned in hospital despite their medical treatment having finished, while others are being released far too early. This is frightening and unsafe.
With a quarter of hospital beds occupied by people with dementia, £264.2 million of public money is being frittered away on poor dementia care. Good care should never be a gamble, yet many are being treated woefully and it’s costing us dearly.
A big part of the problem is the underfunding of social care – meaning fewer people can access vital support in their local community to live independently. The knock-on effect of this is an increase in emergency hospital admissions.
Social care costs much less than care in hospital and provides better quality of life and stability for a person with dementia. Yet, increasingly people who genuinely need social care are denied it due to tightened purse strings. Recent research estimates that money lost while people are trapped in hospital awaiting social care could fund 5.2 million hours of homecare.
For too long people with dementia have struggled. In the absence of a cure, social care is an absolute priority. Without it, many will face living out their final days in a hospital bed. This is not how it should be!