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Dementia sufferers facing longer hospital stays

The Alzheimer’s Society has released new research that reveals that dementia sufferers are having to endure long stays in hospital, due to a shortage of available home care.

The research found that in the last year people with dementia were in hospital three times longer than those without the condition. The delay in discharging dementia patients is said to be due to a lack of suitable council-funded home care for those with the disease. As a result, the NHS spent £900 million on the care of dementia patients last year, who now occupy one in four hospital beds.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at the Alzheimer’s Society, said hospitals were often not the best place for dementia sufferers, who could be frightened and distressed by the unfamiliar environment, and that people were “at the mercy of a healthcare system which doesn’t offer the alternative of good care in the community.”

In addition to enduring longer stays, the charity also found that pain was common in dementia sufferers admitted to hospital, but that many dementia sufferers struggled to communicate the fact that they were in pain. George McNamara, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said hospitals needed more training on caring for people with dementia: “It is not right that people with dementia are experiencing pain which is going unreported in a place where they go to get well. We hear regularly that front line staff don’t have the training they need to manage the complex reality of dementia.”

Research author Dr Liz Sampson, senior clinical lecturer at University College London, added that it was difficult to detect and treat pain in people with dementia, as they often have difficulty expressing themselves: “Hospitals are challenging places for people with dementia to be – they can be noisy, frightening and confusing. Sometimes people with dementia can try and communicate pain through challenging behaviours such aggression or shouting out.”

Our CEO, Fiona Lowry, commented: “It’s concerning to hear that people with dementia are being unnecessarily kept in hospital, when they can be better cared for in the safety and comfort of their own homes. All our Good Care Group carers are fully trained in techniques for working with dementia, ensuring your loved one is happy at home for as long as possible.”