Broken social care system sees emergency admissions of people with dementia rise by 35%

Emergency hospital admissions for people with dementia have risen by more than a third in five years, research by a charity shows.

More than 379,000 emergency admissions in England for people with dementia took place in 2017-18, the Alzheimer’s Society said.

This is up from 279,265 in 2012-13 – a rise of 35%, according to the charity, which analysed data collected by NHS England on hospital episode statistics.

The data also showed that 40,000 people stayed in hospital more than a month after their emergency admission – up 6% in five years.

Of these, 412 were in hospital beds for more than half a year – an 18% rise from 2013/14.

The charity believes much of the rise is down to insufficient care support and care home places able to provide specialist dementia care.

Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society chief executive, warned of “the stark reality of many people with dementia left to fall through the cracks in our broken social care system”, leading to avoidable emergencies such as falls, dehydration and infections.

He said: “People with dementia are all too often being dumped in hospital and left there for long stays.

“Many are only admitted because there’s no social care support to keep them safe at home.

“They are commonly spending more than twice as long in hospital as needed, confused and scared.

“This costs the NHS millions for the want of properly funded social care.

“850,000 people with dementia and their families across the UK heard the Prime Minister’s promise to fix social care. They expect action.”

The rise means that more than half of people with a dementia diagnosis in England were hospitalised in 2017-18, some more than once.

Some 237,881 over 65s with dementia were in treatment following an emergency admission – 54.6% of the 435,600 people with a diagnosis.

The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that the extra 100,000 admissions has cost the NHS £280 million, based on an average hospital stay of 11.4 days.

And it estimates that it has cost more than £165 million to pay for the care of the 40,000 patients in beds for between a month and a year.

It is calling for an immediate investment of £8 billion to stabilise the adult social care system.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We know that hospital visits can be distressing for people with dementia which is why there should be high-quality care in the community.

“We have given councils an extra £1.5 billion next year for children and adult’s social care and are determined to find a long-term solution so that every person is treated with dignity and offered the security they deserve.”

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