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Dementia and memory problem rate in care homes is 80%

Four out of every five people living in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems – far more than previously thought.

A new Alzheimer’s Society report published today says less than half of these 322,000 people are enjoying a good quality of life, although excellent care does exist in places.

Previous surveys suggested the rate of dementia in care homes was closely to 65% than 80%, but many of these were flawed by their methodology, which often involved interviewing the people themselves.

The ‘Low Expectations’ report finds evidence of a “deep-seated pessimism” about living in care homes, although less so about the homes themselves – for example, 41% of relatives said their loved ones in homes enjoyed a good quality of life, but 74% of relatives would recommend their family member’s care home.

A broader opinion poll of UK adults showed widespread fear of having to one day live in a care home, and concerns about abuse not being tackled.

Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “When you walk into an excellent care home it’s full of warmth, activities and interaction. But between these best examples and the worst, which often dominate headlines, there is a forgotten scandal of people with dementia who are failed and left living a life that can only be described as ‘ok’.

“Society has such low expectations of care homes that people are settling for average. Throughout our lives we demand the best for ourselves and our children. Why do we expect less for our parents? We need the government and care homes to work together to lift up expectations so people know they have the right to demand the best.”

Other findings from the report include:

30% of people think people with dementia are treated well in care homes.

48% of people say the main factor they would look for in choosing a care home is training of staff.

44% of relatives said opportunities for activities in that care home were good.

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