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Dementia Care In Hospitals Is Still Poor, According To Second National Audit Of Dementia, UK

People with are still experiencing poor quality care in hospitals, according to the second National Audit of published today (Friday 12 July). Although some improvements have been made since the first audit was published in 2011, there is a gap between written policies and actual practice and several areas have shown little progress.

Just over three quarters (76 per cent) of hospitals now have dementia champions in place at ward level, but two fifths (41 per cent) of hospitals are still not offering dementia to new staff. Similarly two fifths of hospitals (41 per cent) have offered no to support staff, and a tenth did not provide this training to nurses in the twelve months.

Commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership and carried out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the audit surveyed almost all eligible hospitals across England and Wales (98 per cent).

As well as training, the report highlights the following key areas for improvement:

  • Only 36 per cent of hospitals currently have care pathways in place for people with dementia
  • Less than half of patients in the audit had been given key health assessments e.g. for delirium (38 per cent) or mental state (50 per cent)
  • A third of hospitals are not giving sufficient guidance and information to family carers and written information in case notes is still patchy
  • Less than half of hospital boards are routinely reviewing performance in relation to patients with dementia.

There has been some progress in areas, including an increase in the number of patients receiving nutritional assessments and a 10 per cent fall in the prescription of antipsychotic drugs.

Alzheimer’s Society comment:

‘Hospitals are under immense public and political pressure to improve their standards, but given that people with dementia occupy a quarter of hospital beds, it is scandalous that improving is not a top priority for a number of hospital managers.

‘With the news this week that thousands of healthcare assistants are not receiving even basic training, let alone awareness training of how to care for people with dementia, it is unsurprising that we are hearing of instances when carers dare not leave their loved ones’ side.

‘We know that staff want to improve their knowledge of dementia care, but they need to be offered the right tools, support and training to do so. Without a serious culture change to ensure that new policies are actually being put into everyday practice, care for people with dementia cannot and will not improve.’

George McNamara

Head of Policy and Public Affairs

Alzheimer’s Society


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