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Families struggle to access quality dementia home care, Alzheimer's Society figures show

A care company called an elderly man with dementia "too difficult" and gave up on his support leaving his wife struggling.

Rosemary Rolf looks after husband Martin, 76, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015 and without home care would have to move into a residential home.

From left: Martin and Rosemary Rolf. Picture: Alzheimer’s Society
From left: Martin and Rosemary Rolf. Picture: Alzheimer’s Society

The 69-year-old, from Gravesend, said support was invaluable: "We have carers in three times a day – two carers on each call. My husband Martin is unable to stand up, so he stays in bed most of the time and sits in a chair in the day.

"The carers dress and clean him in the morning and hoist him into the chair, then at lunch time they hoist him into bed and check his pad. They hoist him into bed in the evenings and clean his teeth and so on. They do all his personal care.

"The quality of care we have received has been patchy, but now we have a good company who know Martin well.

"One company could not handle Martin – they said he was too difficult and gave up on his care."

Alzheimer’s Society has found that many family members are struggling to access quality home care for their loved ones with the condition.

Martin Rolf was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015. Picture: Alzheimer’s Society
Martin Rolf was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015. Picture: Alzheimer’s Society

Almost a third reported home visits from care workers were too short leaving people with dementia feeling "disorientated and confused" and having to choose between being fed or having a wash.

Rosemary added: "[Martin] shouts and thrashes about as he does not like being messed around with. He is not violent but he waves his arms around and yells.

"I do not feel I need to be in the room with this care company, but I would have had to be there with a different one.

"The care has helped Martin stay at home longer. I could not cope without the carers – without them Martin would need full-time residential care."

Although Rosemary feels she can trust the carers, figures from the charity suggest nearly 8,000 people across the UK felt the need to supervise visits by professionals because they were concerned about poor or inadequate dementia training.

In light of this, Alzheimer’s Society is calling for an immediate cash injection of at least £3.9bn to stabilise the social care sector to pre-pandemic levels from the government.

Jacqui Justice-Chrisp, Alzheimer’s Society area manager for Kent, said: "No one should have to choose between being fed and having a wash during a visit. But it does not have to be this way. We can cure the care system, if the government puts dementia at the heart of their plans to boost the quality of the system.

"People with dementia must get high quality, accessible social care, free at the point of use like the NHS – giving every person with dementia the quality care they deserve, and preventing devoted family carers being forced to plug the gaps."

Two thirds of professional carers do not have any form of dementia training and without this they cannot deliver person-centred, quality care in the time constraints they are working under.

There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, including 23,940 in Kent.

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