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.
This news comes just under a week after the Queen’s Speech frustratingly made only a brief mention of the Prime Minister’s promise nearly two years ago to deliver a clear plan for social care reform, a devastating blow for the 850,000 people living with dementia, worst hit by coronavirus.
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’. Supported by billboard advertising, the heart-wrenching advert exposes the stark reality of being a dementia carer without adequate support.
In a supporting survey of unpaid dementia carers, almost half (48%) reported that they had performed tasks they felt unqualified to carry out because of a lack of support, and as a result, they reported three-quarters (72%) of people with dementia having medical issues at home.
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.
And, as recently reported, this devastating lack of support means many family carers are at breaking point, with 95% admitting it impacts their physical or mental health, 69% reporting feeling constantly exhausted, 64% feeling anxious and 49% feeling depressed.
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, people with dementia have seen massive health deterioration over the pandemic, and with spending cuts biting, the charity warns it expects hospital admissions to increase sharply, costing the NHS millions, unless drastic action is taken to improve dementia care.
In the last month alone, Alzheimer’s Society has heard shocking reports of people with dementia losing the ability to walk, getting pneumonia, and being rushed to hospital with kidney damage from dehydration. All avoidable with quality dementia care.
During Dementia Action Week, 17 – 23 May, Alzheimer’s Society is urging Governments to honour their promise to rebuild the broken social care system, so that people with dementia get high quality, accessible social care, free at the point of use, like the NHS – because dementia isn’t curable yet, but the care system is: visit alzheimers.org.uk/DAW to join our #CureTheCareSystem campaign.
Kate Lee, Chief Executive Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘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.’
Join Alzheimer’s Society’s #CureTheCareSystem campaign, urging Governments to reform the social care system