The health regulator is to carry out unannounced inspections on the care of dementia patients in 150 care homes and hospitals across England.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) announced plans for new, targeted inspections on the day G8 leaders meet in London to discuss the challenge of dementia, with cases set to triple worldwide by 2050.
Ministers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and charities will gather at Lancaster House, with speakers including health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The CQC’s new inspections aim to look at care given to people with dementia and gather information on what works well and what needs improving.
Inspectors will look specifically at how services help people with dementia maintain their physical and mental well-being, how care services work together when people move between homes and hospitals, and how hospital admissions from care homes can be cut and lengthy stays avoided.
Local reports will be published on each service, with detailed judgments and information on any required improvements.
A national report on the issue will also be published in May.
David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said 670,000 people in England are estimated to have dementia and the number in England is expected to double over the next three decades.
“We know that these people are often vulnerable because of their condition and can rely on a number of services across health and social care to support their physical, mental and social well-being,” he added.
“There is a real need to explore why people with dementia may not be receiving high quality care, as well as how the different services work together.
“This is the first time that CQC has undertaken a review which specifically looks at the care services that people with dementia use and rely on. It will address the key issues that these people face, such as why admissions to hospital from care homes are higher for people who have dementia compared to those who do not have the condition.
“Our findings will draw conclusions on a national scale about what works well and where improvements are required.”
The news comes as a £3m “dementia consortium” is launched with the aim of giving a boost to discovering drugs that can help tackle dementia.
It will unite Alzheimer’s Research UK, academics and private pharmaceutical firms Eisai and Eli Lilly in the search for new treatments.
The aim is to provide funding, resources and expertise to increase the chance that academic research on drugs brings benefits to patients.
Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “The G8 is an ideal platform to launch this important drug discovery collaboration as it exemplifies the new kind of partnership we need to produce breakthrough treatments.
“The dementia consortium draws on the strengths of the academic and industrial research sectors and unites them with a view to producing patient benefits more quickly.
“Over 35 million people live with dementia worldwide, a number set to increase as populations live ever longer. We must feed more promising drug targets into the development pipeline, and the dementia consortium will do just that.”
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