Avalanche PR logo

Time called on care home neglect

…But Help is Available From Dementia Care Expert

Owners of care homes across Somerset will no doubt be aware of this week’s warnings over dementia care.

A damning report published this week highlighted the need for care homes to provide specialist training for their staff, to improve the level of care for those affected by dementia.

‘Currently, it’s possible for nursing and residential homes to care for people with dementia, without providing any dementia care training for their staff’ commented Anne Challenor-Wood, founder of See Change in Dementia Care, a Holcombe-based provider of specialist training to carers and audits of nursing home care.

‘Sadly, it’s easy to see why so many nursing homes fall short of the standard of care expected: dementia care needs to be about quality interaction on an emotional level, not task-based nursing.

‘The guidance to nurses issued this week by the Nursing and Midwifery Council on the care of the elderly reinforces the need to focus on respect, dignity and communication when giving care.’

The survey of 6,000 UK care homes conducted by health and social care analysts Laing and Buisson, questioned the care provided.

The report’s findings showed only 57 per cent of home residents affected by dementia were cared for in settings ‘dedicated’ to the condition. This figure increased to two thirds once when all those who ended up with dementia while in care homes were taken into account.

Ms Challenor-Wood continued:

‘The government’s National Dementia Strategy announced last month falls short on the training aspect: it only mentions “competencies” and this demonstrates a lack of understanding of what is needed in terms of dementia care.

‘This section of the government’s Strategy represented a failure to listen to the feedback given during the consultation process. Pure “competency” and “tick box” training will make no significant difference to the quality of care which staff are able to give.’

Ms Challenor-Wood has both personal and professional experience of caring for people with dementia and says the warning signals have gone unnoticed by government for too long.

‘Audits of over 100 care settings across the UK published by the Alzheimer’s Society provide startling evidence of the lack of proper dementia care available. But I’ve also been hugely impressed by those homes which do provide proper care for people with this condition.

‘I’m determined that this experience becomes more widespread and the bar is raised.

‘Only 5 per cent of these were found to be providing exceptional person centred dementia care; and just 10 per cent giving highly skilled loving care.

‘70 per cent were failing to provide person centred care, with 30 per cent giving below average care and the same percentage found to have a critical level of poor dementia care.

‘10 per cent were at crisis level of dementia care.’

Ms Challenor-Wood wants nursing homes to know that there is help out there for those wanting to improve the quality of care for their residents.

See Change in Dementia Care provides audits of nursing homes to assess the current level of dementia care they are able to provide and then provide the support to improve the quality of care. Her company can assist with in-house staff training and development, and also provides a range of courses at its specialist training centre in Holcombe.

She added:  ‘It’s not only care home staff but also staff working in a range of healthcare settings such as hospitals who can find themselves caring for people with this condition.

‘People with dementia can find themselves on a variety of wards, for example orthopaedic if they have taken a fall, and staff often do not have the specialist skills to support and communicate with them.

‘Research shows that people with dementia who have suffered a fractured femur were only given a third as much pain relief as other patients with the same condition.’

The Alzheimer’s Society predicts there will be a million people living with dementia in the UK within the next 15 years. The number of people in Britain with dementia is expected to more than double to 1.7m by 2051.

The dementia care report was published by Laing and Buisson on Tuesday 17 March. On the same day, Minister of State for Care Services at the Department of Health, Phil Hope said he wanted to see care homes take a more active role in the management and care of people with dementia; and Prince Charles called for more of a focus on dementia, when he opened the Alzheimer’s Research Trust’s annual conference in London.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently 7,640 people in Somerset suffering from dementia and this figure is expected to rise by more than 50 per cent to around 11,495 in 2021.  Nationwide, the charity predicts the number of people with dementia – currently 700,000 – to rise to 940,110 by 2021; and to 1,735,087 by 2051.

See Change in Dementia Care – www.dementiatraining.co.uk – provides audits of nursing home care as well as ongoing support, training and assistance to devise strategies for change.  For further information email seechange@dementiatraining.co.uk or call 01761 233472.