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Care homes residents feel ‘abandoned’ by primary care

  • 7 Comments

Elderly care home residents with dementia are being left bed-bound, incontinent and sedated because they have been “all but abandoned by primary care”, claim providers.

A survey of care home managers by the Alzheimer’s Society and care home umbrella body Care England found more than two fifths felt the NHS was not providing swift access to vital services like physiotherapy, continence and mental health services.

“It’s unacceptable that this NHS double standard is leaving people with dementia waiting months”

Jeremy Hughes

Examples of delays reported by care home managers include one resident who said she was suicidal waiting more than two months for a referral to mental health.

Another resident, who had surgery for a fractured hip, had to wait more than a year for follow-up physiotherapy in the community.

Meanwhile, mangers also reported residents having to go without continence aids, with examples of people waiting as long as three months for the right products.

“The government and NHS must act to ensure that these services are available to everyone when they are needed”

Martin Green

Other instances of poor practice included GPs not coming out to care homes and insisting on doing consultations over the phone, and residents being refused out-of-hours GP appointments in their care setting.

The survey of more than 285 managers in England found 44% did not feel the health service provided residents with dementia with adequate and timely access to secondary care services. Meanwhile, 45% reported this was the case when it came to mental health services.

The survey also revealed one in five care homes were being wrongly charged by GP practices for services that should be free on the NHS – up to as much as £36,000 a year.

The Alzheimer’s Society maintained this money would be much better spent on one-to-one care for people with dementia

“People with dementia living in care homes are just as entitled to receive free care from the NHS as anyone else,” said chief executive Jeremy Hughes.

Jeremy Hughes

Jeremy Hughes

Jeremy Hughes

“A care home is, after all, a person’s home and health services must treat care homes as a vital part of the community, instead of holding them in disregard,” he said.

“It’s unacceptable that this NHS double standard is leaving people with dementia waiting months for physiotherapy, incontinence and mental health services,” said Mr Hughes.

He added: “In that time we are concerned they’re being robbed of essential care and pain relief, as well as their dignity, self-esteem and independence.”

The research was conducted as part of the charity’s Fix Dementia Care campaign, which is calling for equal access to NHS services for people with dementia in care homes.

It includes urging the government to help support and improve district and community nursing services in care homes.

Currently, many people living with dementia in care homes – and the staff who look after them “are being all but abandoned by primary care”, claimed Care England chief executive Martin Green.

Professor Martin Green care homes

Professor Martin Green

He said GP practices charging care homes for standard primary care services that should be free to all was a longstanding problem.

“We have called for years for this practice to be put to a stop, and for care homes and residents with dementia to be more visible and equal in the eyes of the health service,” he said.

Mr Green added: “Older people living with dementia in care homes have the same rights to primary care, health and support as any other citizen, and the government and NHS must act to ensure that these services are available to everyone when they are needed.”

  • 7 Comments

Readers' comments (7)

  • michael stone

    There were claims some time ago, that 'GPs 'lose interest' (my phrase) once their patients enter care homes'. This seems to be the same theme - GPs are also claiming to be enormously 'overworked' at the moment, but whatever the reason, there does seem to be an issue with GP services for people in care homes.

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  • Time troll stone was removed!

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  • michael stone

    ANONYMOUS 5 MAY, 2016 10:37 AM

    I'm pleased that you are still 'following me around' - it also somewhat surprises me.

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  • Having worked in different care homes for the last 8 years I feel that the NHS and GP surgeries view residents (and staff) in those homes as a pain the derrière. I have been dismissed by GPs because my residents had the audacity to become unwell after 10am, told to just administer paracetamol to residents evidently in agony, physio follow ups take 12-18months and we darent ask for mental health services (I mean as a care home we should just get on with these things). I even had a ward sister ring me and shout at me for sending in a resident that was "really unwell" - more fool me for thinking that hospitals were the place to go if you were really unwell! I am not tarring all services and individuals with the same brush as I have come across some passionate, helpful and considerate practitioners who have supported our roles in the home but sadly these shining lights are far to few and in between the rest.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous 5 May, 2016 9:02 pm

    An 'insightful' comment, especially if you do mean a care home and not a nursing home - even in a nursing home, doesn't the title (nursing) contain a clue that medical services could still be required: and 'a care home' is surely somewhere that GPs should still be fully engaged with ?

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  • Michael, the commenter is perfectly capable of determining the type of home they work in and their duties! Take your vacuous unwanted commentary to a lay forum when it belongs!

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  • At last ,this issue is having an airing, I can confirm confirm that these injustices have been perpatrated on numerous residents in all types of Care Homes , particularly Care Homes with Nursing ( new classification).
    As stated ALL residents where ever domiciled have the same rights under the Act for NHS treatment and services.

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