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Eighty per cent of people living in British care homes have dementia or memory problems, according to a new Alzheimer’s Society report

08/03/2013
Eighty per cent of people living in British care homes have dementia or memory problems, according to a new Alzheimer’s Society report © Vladimir Nenov |-123rf.com

Eighty per cent of people living in British care homes have either dementia or severe memory problems. However, while excellent care exists, less than half of them are enjoying a good quality of life, according to a new Alzheimer’s Society report published this week.

Only 41 per cent of relatives surveyed by the British Alzheimer’s Society reported that their loved ones enjoyed good quality of life. Despite this, three quarters (74 per cent) of relatives would recommend their family member’s care home.

There are 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, and over 300,000 of them live in a care home for older people. In this context, the new report explores whether those with dementia in the UK who live in a care home are experiencing the quality of life we would expect for our older years.

The “Low Expectations” report (available here) covers the key factors facing someone looking for a care home, the quality of life of those living in a care home, the role of homes in the community, and also the rare spectre of abuse. It also makes a number of key recommendations and looks at best practice across the country.

Some of the findings of “Low Expectations” are:

  • A YouGov poll commissioned to inform the report reveals that 70% of the general public would feel scared about moving into a care home in the future.  In addition, two thirds (64 per cent) do not feel the sector is doing enough to tackle abuse in care homes.
  • Less than a third (30 per cent) of the public believe people with dementia are treated well in care homes.
  • The main factor (48 per cent) the general public would look for in choosing a care home is training of staff.
  • Less than half (44 per cent) of relatives said opportunities for activities in their relatives' care home were good.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, says: “When you walk into an excellent care home it’s full of warmth, activities and interaction. But between these best examples and the worst, which often dominate headlines, there is a forgotten scandal of people with dementia who are failed and left living a life that can only be described as 'OK'”.

“Society has such low expectations of care homes that people are settling for average. Throughout our lives we demand the best for ourselves and our children. Why do we expect less for our parents? We need the government and care homes to work together to lift up expectations so people know they have the right to demand the best”, he adds.

According to the charity, awareness of dementia has never been higher in the UK. In 2012, the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, Prime Minister David Cameron launched a National Challenge on Dementia, aiming to give a boost to research; address quality of dementia care; increase public understanding of the condition and make communities more dementia friendly.

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