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Neurological patients placed in old people’s homes in Scotland, charity warns

People suffering from neurological conditions are facing a lack of appropriate care from Scottish local authorities, with many not knowing where they are placed or placing them in inappropriate care such as old people’s homes.

The charity Sue Ryder submitted FoI requests to every local authority and health board in Scotland, asking how many people with neurological conditions were placed in old people’s homes. Only a third of local authorities provided figures, and they said a total of 63 people under 65 and 182 over were in old people’s homes.

Sue Ryder estimates that if the figures are the same across all local authorities in Scotland, nearly 1,000 people with neurological conditions could be being cared for without specialist support and rehabilitation.

Pamela Mackenzie, Sue Ryder’s Scottish assistant director, said: “Neurological conditions can strike anyone, at any time, turning their life and the lives of their loved ones upside down.

“Those affected can endure some of most painful and disabling symptoms of all health problems and this impacts on every aspect of their life, including their relationships, their children and their job. On top of this, they face an uphill struggle to get the specialist care they need whether in their own home or in residential care.

“It is clear from our research that the needs of people with neurological conditions have largely been overlooked in recent years.

“Now the true state of neurological health and social care services in Scotland has been revealed, we urge the Scottish government to take immediate action to address these inequalities so people with neurological conditions get the chance of a better quality of life."

Neurological conditions include Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease and sudden brain injury.

They can affect people's ability to move their body, communicate and carry out basic tasks like feeding themselves and washing and cause mental health problems.

One Sue Ryder client, Emma (not her real name), who is in her mid-forties and has multiple sclerosis, was formerly placed in an old people’s home.

She said: “I found it increasingly distressing being there. I used to have a special standing aid to help me get dressed but they didn’t use them at that home so I lost the ability to do that. It was really the wrong place for me and I had to fight and fight to get out.”

Sue Ryder is campaigning for the Scottish government to provide dedicated, specialist and joined-up neurological services for people who live both at home and in residential care and rewritten care standards for neurological care that place people who use health and social care services at their heart.

Jamie Hepburn MSP, Scottish minister for sport, health improvement and mental health, said: “Our 2016-17 budget sets out plans to invest a further £250m per year through health and social care partnerships, to protect and grow social care services, and invest £11.6m to implement self-directed support.

“We also recognise the vital role specialist nurses play in patient care. This is why we committed £2.5m of recurring funding for specialist nursing and care, including up to £700,000 to specifically target MND care.

“The health boards involved are currently recruiting additional nurses, or increasing the hours of existing nurses in order to fulfil our pledge to double the number of MND nurses in Scotland.

“Some posts have already been filled and the remaining posts are expected to be filled by spring 2016.”

Social care is facing a funding crisis in England, however, with the Local Government Association warning that councils are “at breaking point” due to lack of money.




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