This month Fiona Mactaggart, MP for Slough joined over 160 other MPs at the launch of Alzheimer’s Society’s new campaign Fix Dementia Care, calling for improvements in hospital care for people living with dementia.
MPs gathered in Westminster to call for greater transparency across the NHS following an Alzheimer’s Society investigation which found too many people with dementia are falling while in hospital, being discharged at night or being marooned in hospital despite their medical treatment having finished. Freedom of Information requests (FOIs) carried out by the charity found that in 2014-15:
· 28% of people over the age of 65 who fell in hospital had dementia - but this was as high as 71% in the worst performing hospital trust
· In 68 trusts that responded to this FOI (41%), 4,926 people with dementia were discharged between the hours of 11pm and 6am
In the worst performing hospitals, people with dementia were found to be staying five to seven times longer than other patients over the age of 6.
Fiona Mactaggart, said “Frimley Health Trust generally performs well but still needs to do better. Its recent track record on falls affecting people with dementia is much better than average, only 1 in 50 people over the age of 65 who fell in our hospital had dementia – compared to an average of over 1 in 4. But 156 people with dementia were discharged at night. That’s slightly above average for acute hospitals, and I do not believe any older person should be discharged at night unless they have specifically requested it.”
Fiona added “Good hospital care for people with dementia should never be a throw of the dice – yet in some hospitals people are routinely experiencing the consequences of poor care.
“At the moment, there is a postcode lottery on the quality of hospital care people with dementia face and that needs to end. The first step to improving the issue across the country is greater transparency - once we know where the shortcomings are we can take steps to tackle them.
“Our trust generally isn’t as bad as some others, but I am concerned about people with dementia released during night and I have written to the Chief Executive of the trust, asking him to publish a statement of dementia care, and for action to reduce the number of night time discharges of elderly patients.”
George McNamara, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Society said: “We must put a stop to the culture where it’s easier to find out about your local hospital finances than the quality of care you’ll receive if you have dementia. We are encouraging everyone to get behind our campaign to improve transparency and raise the bar on quality.”
“Poor care can have devastating, life-changing consequences. Becoming malnourished because you can’t communicate to hospital staff that you are hungry, or falling and breaking a hip because you’re confused and no-one’s around to help, can affect whether you stand any chance of returning to your own home or not.
“We are delighted to have been able to engage over 160 MPs in one day. Fiona has a huge influence in Slough and we hope she will use this opportunity to take action and improve the care for people living with dementia.”
The campaign is making the following recommendations to fix dementia care:
· All hospitals to publish an annual statement of dementia care, which includes feedback from patients with dementia, helping to raise standards of care across the country
· The regulators, Monitor and the Care Quality Commission to include standards of dementia care in their assessments
Also at the event was actor Kevin Whately, best known for playing Inspector Morse’s Sergeant Lewis. Kevin is a long term Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society. His mother, Mary, died with dementia in 2009. As an Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society, Kevin raises awareness of the Society’s work and supports campaigns such as Fix Dementia Care.
Alzheimer’s Society is calling on people to back the Fix Dementia Care campaign by signing up at www.alzheimers.org.uk/fixhospitalcare