More people with dementia in A&E due to lack of care home beds

NHS hospital

More people living with dementia are being seen in A&E wards due to a lack of care home beds, new research has found.

The King’s College London research found that over three quarters of people living with dementia were seen in A&E in the last year of their life.

Lead author, Dr Katherine Sleeman from the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London, said: “Recognition of the need to improve end of life for people with dementia has been increasing.  This includes enabling them to be cared for in their home or a care home.

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“However, our results show a worrying increase in the reliance on emergency care. In light of the current pressures on the health service, our ageing population and the associated increase in deaths from dementia, there is an urgent need to look at ways we can provide better support for care in the community.

“A strong policy focus on dying out of hospital as a marker of good end of life care may have contributed to the fall in hospital deaths in dementia in recent years. However, our results show that A&E attendance in the last year of life follows the opposite trend. Policy makers need to consider a broader range of indicators of the quality of end of life care alongside the place of death.”

The study found that people living in a care home had fewer A&E attendances.

It added that the likelihood of attending A&E increased over time with the people who died in the most recent year studied 1.6 times more likely to attend A&E than in previous years.

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