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Vulnerable elderly detained when care homes can’t cope

A new report has revealed that staff in care homes are resorting to involving the police when they cannot cope with care home residents. In one case, a 90-year-old dementia sufferer was detained in police cells after a row with carers.

Commissioned by the Home Secretary Theresa May, the report found that police were forced to deal with troubled pensioners when assistance was not available from social services and NHS staff. It found that in most cases, taking elderly people into police custody was the wrong approach and had a ‘detrimental impact on their health and wellbeing’.

The report also brings into question the training of care home staff, who were revealed to regularly call police to restrain dementia patients when they were unable to cope. The report suggests more investment in appropriate training for carers is required in order to remedy the situation.

Dru Sharpling of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, who completed the investigation, said: “I am particularly concerned to find that on occasions when officers were left with no other option, they resorted to detaining vulnerable people in police custody in order to get them the support they needed. Each public service must fully discharge its responsibilities to ensure that police custody does not become the default option for vulnerable people in need of care.”

Caroline Abrahams, from Age UK, commented: “If all the services supporting older people with health and care issues like dementia were working effectively, it would be very unlikely that these kind of crisis points would be reached. The report shows examples of health and care services failing to accept their statutory responsibilities and failing to co-operate effectively.”

Fiona Lowry, CEO of The Good Care Group, explained that a high level of training is essential to provide appropriate care for those with dementia: “A person with dementia is no less a person than anyone else and carers must help to maintain and improve quality of life by respecting and preserving the individual’s personhood.”

To that end, all carers at The Good Care Group are “properly trained to use a range of person-centred techniques to provide reassurance, reduce anxiety and calm behaviours.”