1. An end to second-class treatment in care homes
Making the decision to move into a care home is an incredibly difficult one, both for the person with dementia and their carers or loved ones. What should make this decision easier is the assurance that in a care home, a person with dementia will receive the same, if not better, access to healthcare services. Yet Alzheimer's Society's latest investigation for our Fix Dementia Care campaign has revealed that this is not always the case.
70% of care home residents are living with dementia. Like all of us, they are supposed to be protected by the NHS Constitution, which demands that everyone, regardless of who they are or where they live, should have access to the NHS services they need free at the point of use. However, our research has found that some GP practices may be disregarding the NHS Constitution.
Working with Care England, Alzheimer's Society has discovered that some GP practices are charging for services that should be free on the NHS. In addition, people with dementia are often forced to wait months for vital secondary care like physiotherapy or mental health services.
People with dementia in care homes are receiving a second-class service from the NHS, which is far from what they deserve.
What we are calling for
1. End charging for providing access to a standard primary care service. Alzheimer's Society is calling for the government to clarify the GP contract to ensure that GP practices do not charge for delivering a standard primary care service. This should include a clear definition of 'core' and 'enhanced' services.
2. Enforce the NHS Constitution to ensure that people with dementia living in care homes have equal access to secondary care services. Alzheimer's Society is calling for CCGs and relevant NHS providers to develop effective local pathways to ensure that people with dementia who live in care homes have equal access to secondary services.
3. Enforce the NHS Constitution to ensure that people with dementia living in care homes have equal access to mental health services. Alzheimer's Society is calling for CCGs and community mental health trusts to develop effective local pathways to ensure that people with dementia who live in care homes have equal access to mental health services.
4. Improve healthcare support for care homes. Alzheimer's Society is calling for the government to support improvements in the availability of district and community nursing in care homes. This can help people with dementia receive better care, closer to home and reduce pressure on primary and secondary care.