Dementia patients need more support at diagnosis
A survey of the experiences of patients with dementia and their families reveals that there is a serious shortage of information available regarding services and support following diagnosis.
Patient watchdog group Healthwatch UK spoke to more than 1,000
patients and their families and visited 120 care home to find out more
about the experiences of dementia care, from the help provided by GPs,
to the support offered through hospitals and social care.
says cases of dementia are on the rise. Around 700,000 people in
England have the disease currently, and this figure is expected to
increase to over a million by 2025.
Local Healthwatch branches
have also visited more than 120 care homes. They have spoken to patients
themselves, as well as those providing support, such as care home staff
and family carers, to find out what is working well, and what could be
The survey found that whilst in most cases people found
care to be compassionate and considerate, there were also things that
could be better. Although the exact findings varied from area to area,
local Healthwatch found that those they spoke to wanted to see
improvements in three main areas:
people go for a diagnosis, I think that information needs to be there
for them. Because they go away and they've been told 'You've got
dementia'. But they have got nothing, they have got no-one to call,
nowhere to go," one carer told Healthwatch Norfolk.
- The availability and type
of information regarding services and support following diagnosis helps
to set the tone for the experiences of those with dementia and their
carers. Support for carers is not always as clearly signposted or
explained as it could be. Dementia awareness and education is improving
amongst both professionals and the public, however, some GPs are unable
to spot when patients have dementia.
- Specialist services for
people with dementia, like memory cafes, are said to be very good, but
are not always accessible to those who would most benefit from using
them. More generally, many people felt that the quality of services
themselves was inconsistent, sometimes within the same locality.
- More work needs to be done to make public spaces dementia-friendly by improving elements such as lighting and signage.