Fear of Care Homes
An analysis of recent studies suggests that in excess of 80% of residents living in care homes have dementia or significant memory problems. These figures are much greater than previously believed. However a survey carried out on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society suggests that only 41% of those with family members in care homes thought that the quality of life provided was good, with over a quarter believing it was poor.
Significantly 70% of adults responding to the poll said that they would feel scared about moving into a care home in the future. There is no doubt that obtaining appropriate information on care homes can be challenging, nearly a quarter of family members responding to the survey said they found it difficult to find information on care homes and most Respondents had relied upon information supplied directly by the care homes themselves.
The survey of some 2060 adults confirmed that it is widely accepted that the care system in the UK is underfunded and many family members and people with dementia have paid large costs for care. There is ongoing concern about the consistency of regulation and inspection.
The survey also pointed to the lack of support in the community for dementia sufferers and 64% of those responding felt that care homes were not doing enough to prevent abuse. More than half of UK adults indicated that the risk of a close relative being abused was the biggest concern they would have if the relative went into care.
The results of the poll also indicated concern about the level of health services provided to those in care homes. Only 56% said support from GPs was good, while this figure fell to less than a quarter (23%) when applied to dentists. The report from the Society emphasises that access to good health services play a crucial role in ensuring that people with dementia can have a good quality of life.
Sadly, a case in the Birmingham Crown Court illustrated that offers of help in the community were not always well-intentioned. When we commented upon the Dementia Friends proposal from the Government we suggested that safeguards would be needed to avoid abuse. The case of Darren Aston is a very clear illustration of the cause of our concern. Mr Aston befriended an elderly couple and persuaded them to grant him Power of Attorney. He then took more than £260,000 from their savings in just 10 months, leaving them “destitute” as he tried to shore up his failing business. In a victim’s statement Marjorie Willits told the court that she “wished” she suffered from dementia, so she could be spared the knowledge of Aston’s crimes. Aston was jailed for 5 years.