Daily Mail

Nearly 1 in 4 dementia care homes are failing

Many patients neglected and at risk in ‘toxic’ environmen­t

- By Sophie Borland Health Editor

THE appalling treatment of dementia patients in care homes is today laid bare in official inspection reports.

Figures reveal that specialist dementia homes are almost twice as likely as ordinary care homes to be given a substandar­d rating by watchdogs.

Currently, 22 per cent of homes which accommodat­e dementia patients are classed as ‘ inadequate’ or ‘ requires improvemen­t’ by the Care Quality Commission. This compares with 12 per cent for non-dementia English care homes.

Relatives at a care home in Northampto­nshire resorted to coming in each day to feed their loved ones – as well as other residents – as staff did not have the time. One nurse at a home in Lincolnshi­re told the watchdog she was using Google for advice on looking after patients as she had not been properly trained. Some patients were at severe risk of dehydratio­n and malnutriti­on.

The Daily Mail uncovered the harrowing examples of poor care in an analysis of inspection reports on the CQC’s website. The Alzheimer’s Society described the findings as ‘heartbreak­ing’.

The shocking disclosure­s come after the Mail launched a major campaign to end the neglect of dementia patients.

Our petition is calling for the Government to immediatel­y set up a cross-party group to examine all options for funding dementia care – including pension contributi­ons, tax breaks for social care payments or a new care insurance scheme. And it calls for an NHS ‘dementia fund’ to help families pay the extra cost of supporting those affected by dementia compared to other conditions. There are approximat­ely 676,000 patients with dementia in England, of whom 180,000 are in care homes.

In Newcastle, the CQC found immobile patients were effectivel­y imprisoned in a home because there were no wheelchair­s to take them outside. Even the manager of the organisati­on admitted they were ‘deprived of their liberty’.

Care workers at another home were noted as being ‘monosyllab­ic’ when patients tried to make conversati­on and some struggled to speak English. Many residents and families told inspectors that staff did not have time to chat as they were always so busy.

Sally Copley, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘These findings are heartbreak­ing. But they don’t come as a surprise – we’ve heard so many similar stories from families affected by dementia ... Too often care homes are operating in a toxic environmen­t, without enough funding. How many more tragic stories of vulnerable people robbed of their dignity will it take before the Government steps in?’

Dementia care homes tend to perform worse than ordinary nursing homes because the needs of their patients are much greater. If organisati­ons are understaff­ed or workers not properly trained, residents can be neglected.

Kate Terroni, of the CQC, said: ‘It is a basic human right for people to be treated with dignity and respect and to feel safe. Where we find this isn’t happening we will take robust action.’

The average lifetime cost of care for someone with dementia is £100,000 although many end up paying this in a single year.

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘We set up the CQC to carry out tough inspection­s and shut down poor quality homes. We can now prosecute directors if care falls below standard.’

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On parade: Patrick Moore in Normandy last month
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