Dementia patients let down by failure to diagnose other conditions

Government think tank says staff fail to see people with dementia as more than the disease

Lack of communication between healthcare staff and gaps in their knowledge are diminishing dementia patients' quality of life and costing the UK almost £1 billion a year, according to a government think tank.

The International Longevity Centre has identified six failings in the care of people with dementia and made recommendations to correct them in its report Dementia and Comorbidities: Ensuring parity of care, released today (April 15).

It says in patients with dementia, cases of depression, diabetes and urinary tract infection (UTI), are less likely to be prevented, diagnosed or treated than they are in other people.

Patients with dementia are also three times more likely to die during their first admission to hospital with an acute condition, and four of the five most common reasons for admission are preventable, it says.

The think tank said a lack of support to self-manage conditions and patients having atypical symptoms contribute to the problems.

Among its recommendations are updated condition-specific guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, health professionals involving people with dementia, their carers and families in every decision about their care, and trusts developing comprehensive catheter action plans including staff education and training, to reduce the incidence of UTIs in people with dementia.

The centre's chief executive Baroness Sally Greengross said: ‘It is an absolute scandal that doctors, nurses and healthcare workers are too often failing to see people living with dementia as more than simply this disease.

‘This failure has a devastating impact on quality of life, and results in earlier deaths. A failure to prevent adds avoidable financial pressures to our cash-strapped health service.’

Read the report here

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