Some dementia sufferers are not receiving basic levels of care, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has said.
Launching a set of basic standards that patients should expect from their care, NICE said that care for dementia sufferers is “patchy”.
Dementia sufferers should live in housing that meets their needs, they should be able to participate in leisure activities and should be able to maintain their involvement with their local communities, according to the new NICE guidance which aims to support people with dementia to live well.
“The general picture is that care is patchy,” said NICE’s deputy chief executive and director of health and social care Professor Gillian Leng.
“We know that it is really good in places but it’s not consistent so that’s what we want to be able to achieve with the quality standards is consistent, clear advice.”
She added: “My personal view is that we are all playing catch up because the numbers of people with dementia has been increasing so dramatically - it is related to the ageing population.
“We are just needing now to come to terms with the services that we are meant to be providing to support people - the quality standards will help shape that by providing clarity to some things that would be obvious but they are not necessarily in place at the moment.”
One of the 10 quality standards calls on local authorities and other service providers to ensure that they have an expert to hand who can discuss concerns about possible dementia with a patient or their family members.
The guidance, the first under NICE’s new social care remit set out under the Health and Social Care Act which came into force on Monday, also says that carers and service providers should ensure that patients have access to routine physical and mental health check ups.
George McNamara, head of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “There are 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK, many of whom rely on some form of social care.
“Whilst many people receive excellent quality care, too often standards are falling short and people are being denied the quality of life they deserve. It’s a welcome step that Nice are recognising the need to raise standards and have prioritised dementia as needing a benchmark for what good quality care should look like.
“These standards will be a useful tool for the care sector and show what people with dementia and carers should be able to expect. But, as they are not mandatory, it’s a case of wait and see as to whether this guidance will drive real change or just sit on the shelf.”
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