Many people with dementia living in care homes fail to receive specialist care or basic human interaction needed to lead full lives, a report says today. The Alzheimer’s Society’s Home from Home report found that 40% of residents with dementia were not being cared for in dementia-registered beds in UK care homes, where two-thirds of residents have the disease. Although guidance states these beds should only be used for those with high-level needs, the society said there was a lack of specialist staff skills in too many care homes.
The report found care home workers need to improve their communication and engagement skills to reduce the risk of isolation among quiet and withdrawn residents. In a six-hour period, the average person with dementia spent 70 minutes asleep but just two minutes interacting with other residents or staff outside of caring functions, the society reported.
The big challenges for care home managers were attracting staff with the right skills (60% of respondents) and funding good quality training in dementia care (46%), the survey found.
But it found relatives of residents were happy with the quality of dementia care. Although 54% said their relative did not have enough activities during the day, 68% were satisfied the home understood dementia sufferers’ needs. This highlighted families’ low expectations, the report said.
It called for mandatory dementia training for all care staff, for the inspection and regulation system to acknowledge dementia care as the care home sector’s primary role and for care plans to contain details of activities based on residents’ needs, preferences and abilities.
The report follows the Department of Health announcement in August of England’s first national strategy for dementia, designed to increase awareness and improve treatment. Jenny Owen, co-chair of the strategy’s working group and adult social care director at Essex Council, said the report emphasised the need to bring all care homes up to the standard of the best.
She said: “It is about the way a home is run and the staff thinking about what works well. Pressures are on staff in every home but that doesn’t explain why some do it well and some don’t.”