More than 1,400 vulnerable people living with dementia will spend Christmas in a hospital ward due to a lack of available social care.
An Alzheimer’s Society investigation has revealed that people living with dementia are being delayed in hospital by up to 10 times as long as those without the condition.
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “With such scarce social care funding, wards are being turned into waiting rooms, and safety is being jeopardised.
“One million people will have dementia by 2021, yet local authorities’ social care budgets are woefully inadequate, and no new money has been promised in the Budget to cope with increasing demand.
“Government attention must be focussed on social care, and pounds put behind their promises, to alleviate the pressure on our NHS hospitals, and the suffering of people with dementia on its wards.”
The investigation found that people living with dementia spent 500,000 extra days in hospital last year despite being well enough to go home, costing the NHS over £170m.
Dawne Garrett, Royal College of Nursing Professional Lead for the Care of Older People and Dementia, said: ”Nursing staff know better than anyone how often patients with dementia are stranded in hospital when they could be discharged, if only they had more social support. Hospital is not the best place for people living with dementia, where they are at risk of falling or contracting an infection.
“The College was very concerned to see no extra resources announced for social care in last month’s Budget, and backs Alzheimer’s Society’s call for increased funding for local authorities so that they can give more support to people leaving hospital.”
Margaret Willcox, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, commented:
“This welcome report is further evidence of the urgent need to plug the estimated £2.5bn funding gap facing adult social care up to 2020, which is impacting now on thousands of people in need of reliable, personal care, including those with dementia.
“As part of a caring society, people with dementia need and deserve specialist care and support. A busy acute hospital can add to their confusion and disorientation as they thrive better when in familiar surroundings, especially their own home, with people they know.”