An Alzheimer’s Society investigation, launched to mark Dementia Action Week, has revealed, even before the pandemic, tens of thousands of people with dementia were being rushed to hospital each year, up 27%, because inadequate social care left them unprotected from infections, falls and dehydration.
The investigation, involving FOIs to NHS Trusts, found a 27% rise between 2015 – 2019 of people with dementia sped to hospitals with avoidable emergencies. And in 2019, nearly two thirds (65%) of all emergency admissions of people with dementia were for avoidable illnesses and injuries caused by failures in care.
During Dementia Action Week, Alzheimer’s Society is releasing a hard-hitting TV ad which is calling on the government to ‘Cure the care system’, asking the public to back this by signing a petition. Supported by billboard advertising, the heart-wrenching advert exposes the stark reality of being a dementia carer without adequate support.
“Lockdown has left people with dementia cut off from vital support and care. Interrupted routines, loneliness and isolation have contributed to rapid symptom progression, meaning there’s now more people than ever fighting for scarce dementia care. Without urgent action, avoidable hospital admissions will skyrocket, costing the NHS millions.” – Kate Lee, Chief Executive Officer at Alzheimer’s Society
In a supporting survey of unpaid dementia carers it was noted that (72%) of people with dementia have medical issues at home due to a lack of support. Three in ten had experienced avoidable falls (29%), one in six missed medication (16%), one in five hurt themselves in the house (22%) and one in nine (11%) reported their loved one being rushed to hospital in an avoidable emergency.
Family carers, who often have to carry out tasks they are not qualified for, are at breaking point with 95% citing an impact on their physical or mental health.
While an increase in the number of people with dementia has contributed in part to the rise in avoidable admissions, much of the increase is thought to be due to cuts in spending on adult social care piling pressure on A&E and ambulance services.
With interruptions to routine health and care services, and isolation enforced by lockdown, the post-pandemic picture is obviously no better.
“Decades of chronic underfunding and neglect have led to a care system that’s inadequate and deeply unfair – the pandemic has exposed these failings like never before.
“The legacy of this terrible year must be a reformed social care system, which is free at the point of use and put on an equal footing with the NHS.” – Kate Lee, Chief Executive Officer at Alzheimer’s Society
During Dementia Action Week, 17 – 23 May, Alzheimer’s Society is urging Governments to honour their promise to rebuild the broken social care system. Visit alzheimers.org.uk/DAW to sign the petition, and join #CureTheCareSystem campaign.