Welsh hospitals are failing to meet the needs of dementia patients because of unsuitable environments, inadequate staff training and a lack of stimulation for sufferers.
That was one of the findings today of a damning inquiry into hospital care for older people commissioned by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, which found “shamefully inadequate care and treatment” for some patients.
It is the second highly critical verdict on general hospital care for people with dementia within a week, following last week’s report by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, which identified unlawful treatment for patients.
The inquiry, chaired by former chief medical officer Dame Deirdre Hine, found “little good practice” in dementia care in hospitals, despite the significant and increasing proportion of patients who had the condition.
“Often there was a lack of knowledge in relation to the needs of people with dementia in both acute and community hospitals, a lack of appropriate facilities and environments, and a lack of access to specialist skilled staff to meet their needs fully”, it found.
Ward environments contributed to dementia patients’ confusion, for instance if they could not recognise their room because all rooms looked the same. It said the hospitals had concentrated on meeting physical access requirements under the Disability Discrimination Act and establishing single sex accommodation, rather than making environments fit for people with dementia.
The report also found an “unacceptable” failure to meet patients’ toileting needs, including an over-reliance on incontinence pads and failures to respond to calls for assistance.
Intimate details about older people and their care were discussed in public on ward rounds as a matter of routine.
Commissioner Ruth Marks said: “Fundamental change is needed to prevent what is sometimes shamefully inadequate care and treatment. Poor practice must never be tolerated.”
The report’s recommendations included:
● Greater priority given to improving continence care.
● Ensuring consultations between patients and staff are held in private.
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