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Code of conduct vital to raise standards of dementia care

December 22, 2011 12:08 AM

A code of conduct based on the best training and nursing practice from across Europe could be a vital way to raise care standards for dementia patients, says Euro MP Liz Lynne.

The Lib Dem MEP and longstanding campaigner against elder abuse spoke out after a shocking report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists revealed widespread failures to provide proper care for dementia patients and a lack of training.

Less than a third of staff questioned by RCP researchers in the audit of 210 hospitals thought they had sufficient training to care for patients with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Basic help with activities such as eating is insufficient in some places, the report says.

A quarter of hospital beds are occupied by people over 65 who suffer from Alzheimer's or another form of the condition. Yet the RCP found only 6% of hospitals had a care pathway in place for people with dementia, though another 44% had one being developed.

The report found that services are 'safe' but lacking in other areas such as staff communication with families, personal care and a failure to access existing specialist services.

Liz Lynne, MEP for the West Midlands, is first Vice President of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee and Vice President of the Age Intergroup of MEPs.

She said: "This research is yet more evidence of the need for a real step change in standards for people in long term care and for training people who look after them.

"I believe an EU-wide code of conduct, which would not require new legislation, has a vital role to play in delivering this, not least by sharing best practice that works.

"Almost every European country is grappling with a huge increase in the number of people who need long term care. Over half of residents in UK care homes have some form of dementia.

"Different countries are tackling the issue in different ways but we all have to develop affordable but far-reaching ways to train staff in person-centered care, maintain high standards and prevent abuse, whether deliberate or simply due to ignorance."

"In Britain the last Labour government produced a Dementia Strategy in 2009, but today's report makes it quite clear that this has not worked.

"Learning the lessons and experience from other countries and adapting successful models for the provision of training or specialist services could make a huge difference."


Note: For the more details of the National Audit of Dementia see

Liz Lynne, MEP for the West Midlands, has worked closely with Age UK and other campaigners to highlight elder abuse and lack of proper training for staff in long term care. In September, the Lib Dem conference in Birmingham voted nem con to back Liz Lynne's amendments to a policy motion on social care, which called for sharing best practice and an EU-wide code of conduct on long term care as well as tougher measures to improve care standards, prevent abuse and give adults at risk of abuse similar rights as those given to children. Her proposals were supported both by Age UK and the Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow.