Health

Dementia home support an absolute travesty - charity

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Media captionAlzheimer's Society ambassador Kevin Whately: "The more family and friends can take care of a patient the better"

The home support given to people with dementia and their carers is an "absolute travesty", a charity says.

The Alzheimer's Society study - based on feedback from carers, health workers and patients - said the problem was causing unnecessary admissions to hospital and care homes.

The authors called for better training for staff and access to services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government said the charity was right to highlight the issue.

About 750,000 people in the UK have dementia, two-thirds of whom are living at home with support from loved ones and sometimes social services.

But the report said too many were ending up in hospital or being admitted to care homes too early because of the lack of support being provided to ensure people could remain in their own homes.

Breaks

Respite care, which allows carers to have breaks, was found to be lacking, while there was said to be too little joined up working between the NHS and social care.

In particular, the report criticised the ever-tightening criteria councils were using to see who should be eligible to social care support. It said much of the £2bn extra being promised by government for social services by 2014 would be needed to rectify this.

The study also pointed out that it was essential that dementia patients received proper assessments and had personalised care plans drawn up to ensure they were getting the right medication and support.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "It is an absolute travesty that so many people with dementia are being forced to struggle without the care and support they need. The consequences of this represent an unacceptable human and financial cost."

Actor Kevin Whately, who is one of the Alzheimer's Society's celebrity supporters and whose mother had dementia, added: "Many people are having their health put at risk and being forced into hospital or care homes against their will.

"It also represents a huge financial burden which society cannot afford to take on, especially in these economic times."

Care services minister Paul Burstow said: "The Alzheimer's Society is right to turn the spotlight on home care for people with dementia. While there are some outstanding services, as this report demonstrates too many people with dementia and their carers feel let down."

But he added: "What needs to be done to put things right is not rocket science, it requires compassion, common sense and a determination to treat people as people, not boxes to tick."

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