The Care Quality Commission has heavily criticised “unacceptable” differences in the standard of dementia care provision found across hospitals and care homes in England.
A major review conducted over five months by the regulator identified aspects of “variable” or “poor” care in more than 90% of the 149 providers that were inspected.
“We need to make sure that every care home and hospital achieves the high standard of care we see in the best services”
Its findings have prompted charities to highlight the need to improve training in dementia care for healthcare staff.
The review involved 129 care homes and 20 hospitals. It focused on four areas of care – how people’s needs were assessed, how care was planned and delivered, how providers worked together and how the quality of care was monitored.
A report detailing the review’s findings – called Cracks in the Pathway – noted links between poor dementia care and a lack of staff understanding and knowledge in the majority of hospitals and around a quarter of homes.
In more than a third of homes and nearly half of hospitals inspected, the planning and delivery of care to meet the person’s mental health, emotional and social wellbeing was judged to be “inconsistent” or “poor”.
“Developing staff and helping them understand the needs of people with dementia is vital”
Meanwhile, 56% of hospitals and 29% of care homes were failing to provide a fully comprehensive assessment of a person’s care needs.
In addition, 83% of hospitals and more than half of care homes were poor or inconsistent in sharing information when patients moved between services, said the report.
Around a third of providers showed variable or poor practice in monitoring the quality of dementia care, the report added.
Andrea Sutcliffe, the CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said: “Our review found some great care, delivered by committed, skilled and dedicated staff. But this is not the case everywhere, or even within the same service, meaning too many people are at risk of poor care.
“This has got to change,” she said. “A wealth of guidance exists to drive the delivery of excellent care for people living with dementia.”
She added: “We need to make sure that every care home and hospital achieves the high standard of care we see in the best services.”
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said the report highlighted the plight that many people with dementia faced.
“The inconsistency of care found here means many people are rightly worried about being admitted to hospital or having to move into care,” he said, while acknowledging that staff could find communicating with people with dementia “extremely challenging”.
Mr Hughes added: “We know there are many care homes and hospitals that are getting it right by training their staff in person-centred care and making their homes and wards more dementia friendly.
“Developing staff and helping them understand the needs of people with dementia is vital if we are to improve the care people receive,” he said.
A new national specialist adviser for dementia care will now be appointed and hospital inspection reports will include a separate section addressing care for dementia sufferers, the CQC said.
The regulator said it would also ensure all inspectors were trained to recognise good dementia care so that assessments of providers are consistent.