A better way to care for dementia sufferers

18 Dec 2013

Death rates are higher for dementia sufferers due to substandard care in care homes across the UK. Lack of training for care home staff and ignorance of symptoms are thought to be significant factors in the high mortality figures, with some reports stating 67% of dementia related deaths occur under nursing home care.

The UK currently has 800,000 dementia sufferers with 60,000 deaths a year directly attributed to the disorder. Care homes have seen an influx of patients with the condition as many people see no other alternative to providing round the clock care for their elderly relatives.

Dementia is a set of symptoms caused by the deterioration of brain cells resulting in memory loss, mood changes and difficulty in communicating. Brain damage as a result of Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, as well as strokes, and inherited genetic weaknesses. The devastating effects of the condition can leave even the most able-bodied individual unable to carry out every day tasks independently.

The inadequate care received by dementia patients in residential care homes is largely due to a lack of training to deal with the specific requirements dementia commands and consistently low wages resulting in ongoing care absenteeism. A report carried out by the Care Quality Commission found that problems such as dehydration, pneumonia and malnutrition in dementia sufferers were not prevented, detected or treated properly in 52% of care homes in England. Better training for care home staff would result in less dementia patients having to be admitted to hospital due to missed bedsores or respiratory tract infections, ailments that are easily treated when identified early enough.

The huge staff turnover within the care sector means the elderly are constantly faced with strangers, who despite their best efforts, do not know or understand them and are clueless as to what their personal needs might be. When dealing with dementia, consistency is key to keeping the patient stable so it is crucial that a carer knows the patient’s individual preferences and maintains their routine.

Live-in care allows the patient to remain in the familiar home environment, keeping disturbance and change to a minimum and eliminating the stress and upheaval that relocating to a care home can cause for the elderly. Carers are hand picked and carefully placed to match the exact needs of the patient, providing constant and consistent care within the safety and normality of their own home.

Miriam Warner, founder of the Miracle Workers live-in care agency believes the personal touch is vital in successful care for dementia sufferers. Miriam commented, “ When caring for those with dementia, consistency of care is vital. Live-in care provides a regular routine and familiar face that puts the patient at ease. Clients can continue to enjoy their normal daily activities, such as meeting with friends, walking the dog and gardening. It’s a great comfort for family and friends to know their relatives are able to continue enjoying the freedom and tranquillity of their own home while receiving the one to one care and companionship”.

Providing peace of mind for patients in the home, live-in care also reduces the financial pressure that care homes entail, often working out to be a significantly lower cost. After a home assessment of the client’s needs the carers are appropriately trained for their placement and regular communication between the carer/client and agency ensures the highest standard of care is carried out. Memory loss doesn’t have to mean losing your home or sense of place in the community, and agencies like Miracle Workers ensure that people throughout the UK can retain their independence and sense of purpose even when faced with the challenges of dementia.

Further information is available from Miracle Workers on 01873 881306, by emailing: miriam.warner@miracle-workers.co.uk or by visiting the company’s website at www.miracle-workers.co.uk