Alzheimer’s Society warn of ‘conveyor belt care’

A report released by the Alzheimer’s Society has revealed that thousands of people with dementia are being subject to ‘conveyor belt care’ with 3% of those polled seeing more than 40 different care workers over a six month period.

Results from surveys that collected the views of both relatives and care workers revealed that one in ten of those with dementia received visits from at least 20 different care workers.  The poll of carers indicated that the findings were likely to underestimate the scale of the picture given that those without a carer were far more likely to be reliant on a succession of social services staff.  It has been reported that staff have little time to deliver the care required and they are increasingly forced to fit essential tasks such as bathing, feeding and cleaning into tighter schedules.

George McNamara, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Society said “over the average dementia journey some people could see literally hundreds of different care workers for shorter visits.  This kind of conveyor belt care cannot be right.”  He added that good care should include carers building a relationship with the person with dementia and understanding their individual needs.  This is undermined by the current reported practices.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said “it is deeply saddening to see yet more research that underlines the true crisis where services have been stripped to the very bone and care staff stretched to their limits.  People living with dementia can often be in a very vulnerable state and lack of continuity can be extremely distressing and disorientating for them as well as complicating their care.  Home care needs to be focussed on caring for, and listening to the individual rather than just rushing through a list of tasks especially when caring for people with dementia, who may suffer from confusion.”

A Department of Health spokesman said “People with dementia and their families need to know who is responsible for their care and how it is being coordinated – that’s why we are bringing back named GPs for vulnerable elderly people so that they know exactly who is accountable.”  He added that the Government are committed to improving dementia care and have invested significant sums of money to improve both access to services and diagnosis.

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