Majority of Advanced Dementia Sufferers Fail to Get Specialist Care

A recent study that has been carried out in the UK has found that the majority of advanced dementia sufferers are not getting the specialist care that they need. There are various home care services available in the UK that can provide sufferers of this condition to get in home care. However, the study suggests that more services are required in order to take the onus off GPs and emergency services.

The study was carried out by the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department at London’s University College. Worryingly, the results suggested that up to 99 percent of advanced dementia sufferers were being looked after by GPs and emergency services, who often end up sorting out palliative care for the patient.

No planned response to patient needs

As part of the research, 85 advanced dementia sufferers from six different clinical commissioning groups across the UK were studied. Researchers involved with the study said that only 1 percent of these individuals had been seeing a specialist such as a geriatric doctor or psychiatrist. On the other hand, close to 20 percent were seen by paramedics in the few weeks leading to their death. Officials said that this suggested that advanced dementia patients were only receiving reactive attention and treatment rather than being part of a planned programme to treat their ongoing needs.

The research went on to suggest that the main care provider in the last weeks of an advanced dementia sufferers life was their GP. In a breakdown of the figure, it was revealed that 96 percent of those that were suffering from the condition had seen their GP during the final month of their life.

The report has raised concerns over patients’ access to secondary healthcare services, as it suggests that there is a lack of specialist support even for the GPs dealing with the patients. Palliative care teams were found to have been involved in the management of symptoms. However, although 34 percent had been referred only 28 percent were found to have actually seen a palliative care team. In cases where they were seen, it was generally in the run-up to their death.

 

The result of the study has caused concern over the number of dementia sufferers being left without the specialist care that they need. It has also raised concerns over the increased pressure being put on GPs and emergency services.

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