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01.07.19

Councils failing to meet dementia care targets, reveals Healthwatch England

Healthwatch England have published new data showing councils are struggling to meet key targets for dementia care.

Under the Care Act, which came into force in April 2015, councils must ensure that their social care services are responsive to the specific needs of individual patients. In order to achieve this, people’s care plans must be reviewed at least once a year.

New figures, gathered through a Freedom of Information Act request,  show that councils across England are struggling to meet these requirements – with those with dementia worst affected.

Out of 152 councils with social care responsibilities in England that were asked about their reviews and reassessments for people with dementia, 97 councils provided data that formed the final report.

In that data, it showed only 45% of people with dementia who use social care got a care review in 2017/18. The figure for all care users, according to NHS Digital, stands at 51%.

One quarter of people with dementia had to have an urgent or unplanned review after an emergency or sudden change of circumstance meant their support needs had changed.

Should a review find that someone’s needs have changed significantly it should immediately trigger a full reassessment of their needs.

Healthwatch England’s research found that 65% of completed reviews led to a full reassessment. Over half of these reassessments saw no change in a person’s care, while 34% saw an increase in funding.

Just 8% of reassessments led to a decrease in funding.

READ MORE: A third of people with dementia diagnosis don’t get NHS follow-up support

READ MORE: How we can truly make a difference for inpatients with dementia?

Dementia is unique in each person, with symptoms affecting everyone differently and creating very different experiences with the condition, which can deteriorate quickly or fluctuate rapidly.

Reviews serve to ensure that people with dementia get the care they need, and if not in place it can regularly fall on friends and family to step in and provide what formal social care cannot.

In 2017/18 one third of people who use dementia support services got no review at all.

National director of Healthwatch England, Imelda Redmond CBE, said in response to the organisation’s findings: “Reviews and assessments are about more than just ticking boxes on a form.

“Over half of reviews for people with dementia were missed by councils last year, so we simply don’t know if people are getting the support they need.

“Behind each missed review is a real human story.

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“We heard examples where a lack of support left people and their families struggling to cope on a day-to-day basis, with tasks that many of us take for granted, like eating, washing, dressing or even using toilet.

“The fact that councils are struggling to meet the Care Act requirement to deliver care reviews should provide a real wake-up call to us all.”

Redmond added that with council resources stretched to near breaking point, fixing social care must be a new priority for the new Cabinet in the coming weeks.

Jeremy Hughes CBE, chief executive officer of Alzheimer’s Society said: “It’s downright appalling that more than half of people with dementia didn’t get a care package review last year.

“Dementia is a complex disease, and a person’s care needs can change dramatically over time. This means thousands of people are not receiving the appropriate care and support that they so badly need.”

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