Care of the elderly in the UK has again come under major scrutiny following the publication of a new report which has claimed dementia patients are being left ignored for hours on hospital wards, often being denied food, fluid and pain relief.
It comes after the Alzheimer’s Society carried out detailed surveys of 574 relatives and carers, and submitted Freedom of Information requests to health trusts.
The findings have made front page news in the national media, claiming confused patients are being manhandled by staff and security guards, and at times handcuffed to beds.
It adds that thousands of people with Alzheimer’s have been discharged from hospital wards in the middle of the night, between 11pm and 6am.
The charity said nine in ten of those interviewed said hospitals were frightening places for their loved ones, whilst six in ten said staff did not treat patients with dignity.
In our experience of handling compensation cases relating to poor care of the elderly at Hudgell Solicitors, it is the lack of love and respect often shown on wards and in care homes which is most heart-breaking for loved ones.
Many families do their best to care for their elderly relatives at home, and when they are finally admitted to a hospital or care home, feeling confident that they’ll be treated with love and respect, and able to maintain their dignity, are the key concerns.
In any circumstance, that is the minimum expectation of care, but it is something which is still not guaranteed according to this report.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said poor hospital care could have devastating, life-changing consequences.
“Starving because you can’t communicate to hospital staff that you are hungry, or falling and breaking a hip because you’re confused and no one’s around to help, can affect whether you stand any chance of returning to your own home or not,” he said.
‘You can be pushed around from one part of hospital to the other with nobody really being aware of the needs you have.’
Figures showed dementia patients suffered 702 falls in 2014/15, however only 40 per cent of the 160 hospital trusts approached replied with statistics.
Around a quarter of patients in hospital have dementia, with patients often staying in hospital up to seven times longer than others because they fail to recover.
However, the report claims care is so poor that many are sent home in a worse state than when they arrive.
For any relative who has a loved one with Alzheimer’s currently in hospital, this report makes worrying reading, and is yet further evidence on why big changes and improvements need to be made, across all sections of care for the elderly in the UK.
If you spot any nursing home injuries or signs of poor care, it is important to report these immediately to the nursing home management before you seek the help of a negligence solicitor.
For more information, you can read our blog on abuse in nursing homes.