‘Better to treat dementia patients at home’
The head of the charity responsible for bringing a team of dementia experts to the Island claims attitudes towards sufferers needs to change if patient care is to improve.
Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia founder Elizabeth Stewart also questioned whether, for the price of a hospital bed, patients could get better, individualised treatment at home.
It currently costs about $13,000 per month for a patient to stay on the Continuing Care Unit of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Many patients have been at the unit for extended periods of time and for most, the hospital has become their home.
“For that sort of money, we could have patients living back in their own homes getting one-on-one care,” Ms Stewart said.
“That would give people a much better quality of life and it’s definitely the way to move forward. We need to look at what we can do more efficiently to look after these people. At the moment they’re stuck in a hospital regime that’s institutionalised.”
Ms Stewart said professionals needed to adopt an up-to-date approach to dementia sufferers, and better training was needed.
And she said the welfare of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients was the responsibility of the entire Island, not just healthcare professionals.
“In general, care for residents of care homes and the hospital tends to be very task focused — a result of both education and staff not having enough time. Staffing levels should be increased so a more person-centred approach to care can be put in place.
“Carers need to realise that they are dealing with people who had lives and jobs and enjoyed different things and that those things were important. That’s one of the challenges and so I think training is a big part of the puzzle.”
Ms Stewart also expressed concern that standards in independent care homes may be poor. She claimed that some care homes were housing dementia patients even though they were not licensed to do so.
“We have major problems with infrastructure right now and unfortunately there is nowhere else for these people to go,” she said.