People living with dementia in care homes are failing to get the specialist care they require, according to research.
UCL researchers found that care homes, where the majority of people with dementia will die, were poorly served by secondary healthcare services.
The report said visiting GPs were not supported by specialist services, reflecting previous studies showing that nursing home residents received less planned and more emergency healthcare than those living in their own homes.
Dr Liz Sampson, Reader at UCL’s Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, said: “The system isn’t currently fit for purpose. We need to see more resources provided in the community and nursing home staff receiving more support from external healthcare services.”
Scott Sinclair, Head of Policy & Public Affairs in England for Marie Curie added: “For many people with advanced dementia, care homes are essentially playing the role of hospices but without any of the specialist support services that are available in a hospice. This is not fair to the residents and their families, or the care home staff who are unable to meet the needs of their residents.”
While those with advanced dementia often suffered chronic pain and psychiatric symptoms that persisted over many months, they had little contact with specialist services such as palliative care, geriatrics or mental health.
Only 1% of people with advanced dementia were seen during the follow up period of the study by a geriatrician or an older persons’ psychiatrist.
The researchers, from the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department at UCL, found that GPs were the main providers of medical care, with 96% of people with advanced dementia seeing a GP in their last month of life.