Emergency admissions for people with dementia

January 22, 2020

New data published today by Alzheimer’s Society reveals that more emergency admissions are being made for people with dementia.

The figures show over 379,000 emergency admissions in England for people with dementia in 2017/18, an increase of 35% from 2012/13.

The number of people with dementia who stay in hospital for up to a year after an emergency admission in England has also risen by 6% since 2012, with 40,000 people with dementia remaining in hospital for longer than a month in 2017/18.

The rising figures mean that more than half of all people with a dementia diagnosis in England went through emergency admission to hospital in 2017/18, many multiple times, says Alzheimer's Society.

The charity estimates that this increase in emergency admissions for people with dementia cost the NHS over £280m. On top of this, the cost of the 40,000 people spending between a month and a year in hospital in 2017/18 was over £165m.

While the ageing population may be accountable for some of the increase, Alzheimer’s Society suggests that much of the increase could be down to difficulties faced by the social care sector, particularly given the limited number of care homes able to provide specialist dementia care.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Chief Executive, Jeremy Hughes warned that this is, 'The stark reality of many people with dementia left to fall through the cracks', as people with dementia tend to be more likely to experience avoidable emergencies like falls, dehydration and infections.

Alzheimer’s Society hears every day through its Fix Dementia Care campaign about the human cost of the underfunded social care system – from the 82-year-old rushed to hospital in a critical condition due to an infection, to the woman whose husband spent two thirds of a year in hospital due to multiple infections and falls, unable to return home because they were provided with no care assessment or care support, the charity says.

It is today demanding £8bn per year allocated in the Spring Budget to stabilise the social care system, and for cross-party talks to begin immediately so agreement can be reached for free universal care, funded like schools and the NHS, to give people with dementia the dignity, security and fundamental care they deserve.

Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive 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.'

Responding to the data on emegency admissions for people with dementia, Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said, 'The system is not working...The NHS and social care are sister services - when one does not work, the other suffers.

'Unless something is done now, it can only get worse. The Government has promised reform but unless we find an answer soon, backed up by long-term funding, this tragedy will go blighting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with dementia and their families.'

The full report is available on the Alzheimer's Society website.

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