The human story behind the headlines on the real cost of dementia care


According to the BBC in 2010 just 5% of NHS hospitals give staff formal training to care for patients with dementia.

It was then reported that patients with severe dementia had a bad experiences when in hospital or as outpatients. In 2010 most staff did not know how to meet the needs of dementia patients properly.

One relative of a patient with dementia said; “She went into hospital continent and, before the fall, fully mobile. She came out completely incontinent because she was just left in the bed and completely immobile.”

“It’s this general lack of knowledge and training within the hospital system of the needs for dementia patients.”

Since then the need to improve hospital care for patients with dementia has been recognised nationally, addressing the needs of the most vulnerable patients. Across the country training and information on dementia has been given to improve the care the NHS provide and they are working in partnership with all organisations and carers who deliver services to patients with dementia.

To support this the NHS have an ongoing programme of training and awareness raising for hospital staff in relation to the specific needs of patients with dementia who become acutely ill.

As with the work the NHS do for clients with a learning disability and other vulnerable people who become acutely ill, they are also keen to work further with the relatives and carers of patients with dementia, so that the NHS can continuously improve the care they provide.


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Dementia Report

More than 850,000 people in the UK have dementia with the number predicted to be over 2 million by 2051. Dementia costs the UK £26.3bn per year, enough to pay the annual energy bill of every household in the country.

The cost to the NHS (included in the £26.3bn) is £4.3bn.

Last night the BBC popular programme Hospital broadcast a dementia special. This episode told the human story behind the headlines, by analysing the links between Imperial Trusts’ hospitals and their social care partners in the wider community.

In this episode, St Mary’s experiences one of its longest ever waiting time breaches when a woman with serious mental health issues waits 29 hours for a psychiatric bed to become available. All staff can do while they wait is keep her safe in Room Q, the designated space for people in crisis, while the psychiatric liaison team battles to find the specialist care she needs. Spaces are limited and demand is high.

Dementia can also cause great emotional distress or confusion. 75-year-old Carl’s dementia has dramatically worsened and his family take him to A&E after he becomes aggressive at home. Patricia, his wife of 25 years, looks after him without the help of carers, but is reaching breaking point. Carl is admitted to the hospital’s specially designed dementia ward, developed in response to the fact that 25 per cent of medical patients now have some form of dementia. Carl is soon medically fit to leave hospital but the hospital must secure extra support from social services before Patricia can safely take him home.

85-year-old Stanley, who also has dementia, has had three admissions to St Mary’s since January – this time, he was found wandering semi-naked by police and brought to A&E. Unpredictable and prone to outbursts of challenging behaviour, Stanley isn’t coping well at home. His family are keen for the hospital to find him a nursing home place, but it won’t be easy. Not every nursing home will have the skills and resources to manage Stanley’s demanding behaviour.

Please share and watch again here: BBC TWO Hospital

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