North East Wales

Hospital staff lack dementia training, widow says

Christine and Paul Bexon Image copyright Christine Bexon
Image caption Christine Bexon's late husband Paul developed early onset dementia at the age of 55

The wife of a man who suffered from dementia has said some hospital staff struggle to deal with patients because they lack training into the condition.

Christine Bexon's comments about her late husband Paul come as a study has highlighted concerns about the way patients with dementia are treated.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said it had "dedicated resources" for supporting patients.

The Welsh Government said £10m extra was being invested annually in care.

Mrs Bexon, from Rhyl, Denbighshire, said her husband, who had early onset dementia, was given mild sedatives after being admitted to hospital for foot trouble.

"He just didn't know what was happening so he was just pacing around and walking into walls," she told 5Live Investigates.

"I knew he was confused, but the staff in there weren't really trained in that sort of thing so they ended up giving him mild sedation just to calm him down."

Mr Bexon died in December.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Early onset dementia affects people under the age of 65

A study from Cardiff University of five hospitals across England and Wales said it found wards suffered from "dehumanization, staff burnout and a lack of training in dementia".

It added the current ward styles were "counterproductive" and "overshadowed the needs of sensitive patients".

The report observed patients with dementia had often been restricted to bed by rails or tucking sheets in tightly, against best practice of allowing movement to facilitate rehabilitation.

A spokesman for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said it could not comment on individual cases.

He added: "We have invested in employing dedicated dementia support workers in all of our general hospitals, developing a dementia feedback toolkit which supports dementia patients' right to provide feedback on their care, and making environmental changes to our hospitals to meet dementia friendly recommendations."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said it had set out plans in February to improve dementia care in Wales which would be supported by an additional £10m annually to improve services.

The Department of Health said that it "expect everyone with dementia to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve" and that it has invested £50m to make hospitals and care homes dementia friendly, including through awareness raising activities.

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