NFWI Dementia Care in Hospitals – Response

This week The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) published a report in to Dementia Care in Hospitals from the Carers Perspective. This report presents the findings of the NFWI’s research into dementia care and support for carers in hospital, based on over 200 personal experiences obtained through an online survey and telephone interviews. The report covers carers’ access to the hospital ward, the involvement of carers’ in planning, quality of care provided and whether the support offered met the needs of the carers’.

The report finds that there are pockets of good practice to be found, for instance increased visiting hours and improved support to carers. Of the 26% of carers who benefited from unrestricted visiting hours and the 38% of carers being able to visit their loved one out side of visiting hours, many reported these changes having a positive impact on them and their loved ones. This adds evidence to what we have always said; that involving carers in the treatment and support provided to those they care for is beneficial to all involved.

However, disappointingly, dementia care is far from good enough in many cases, with hospitals failing to treat patients with dignity and respect and provide an adequate level of care. The report shows that 41% of carers believe that most of the time hospital staff did not meet their loved one’s care needs in relation to their dementia. Additionally, only 30% of carers said that hospital staff recognised and valued their role as a carer and 42% of carers said that hospital staff did not support them as a carer.

These findings are deeply concerning and show the urgent need for action for both carers and those they care for. The report outlines key recommendations including:

  • Hospitals to allow and make it easier for carers to stay with their loved one outside of visiting hours.
  • The implementation of Principle 4 of the NHS Constitution which states that “Patients, with their families and carers, where appropriate, will be involved in and consulted on all decisions about their care and treatment”.
  • Thematic reviews of dementia care in acute hospitals to promote good practice and ensure that issues in relation to the quality of care are acted upon.

“To achieve these much needed fundamental changes, the health and care system must recognise and respect the significant role and contribution that carers of people with dementia make. They are the experts by experience and it is imperative that professionals listen, value and work in partnership with carers of people with dementia to deliver the much needed improvements in dementia care in our hospitals across the country.”
Anna Gaughan, Chief Executive, Life Story Network and tide

We believe that these recommendations, and the many others the report outlines, will not only significantly improve services and support offered, but are also paramount to upholding a human rights based approach in our health and social care systems. We are fierce advocates for person centred care (as evidenced in our Knowing Me! training resource) and the informed and empowered involvement of carers at every level (shown  through our work in tide – together in dementia everyday) and welcome the changes this report calls for.