Sisters back calls for better training

Sisters Sandra Trewick (left) and Maria Nicholson.
Sisters Sandra Trewick (left) and Maria Nicholson.

Two sisters have backed calls for better training for home carers dealing with patients diagnosed with dementia.

Officials at the Alzheimer’s Society say a study they carried out with Unison shows a lack of dementia training has resulted in poor quality home-care, resulting in people with the condition going without food or water, or spending the day in soiled clothing.

The organisation has launched a petition – as part of its Fix Dementia Care campaign – calling on government funding to counteract cuts to social-care budgets and ensure staff have the skills needed to provide dementia care.

Their findings found that out of the 520,000 workers, an estimated 38 per cent of workers have no dementia training while 71 per cent do not receive training that is accredited.

And the findings have been backed by sisters Maria Nicholson and Sandra Trewick, who were appalled by the poor standard of care given to their father, Alexander Hurst, after he was diagnosed with vascular dementia.

In the first three weeks of his care, 15 different home-care workers visited his house, leaving the former draughtsman ‘frustrated and annoyed’.

Maria, 50, of North Shields, said: “The carers changed constantly, so there was no continuity.

“In the worse cases, they would be in and out within 10 minutes even though we were paying for half-an-hour. And there would be no social interaction other than them saying hello and goodbye.

“A lot of what went wrong could have been so easily avoided.”

She added: “For example, there was an agreed care plan in place for dad, but the home-care workers just ignored it.

“I used to prepare meals for him the night before and label them. All the carer had to do was check the fridge. Instead, they’d ask dad if he’d eaten.

“Often he’d say yes when he hadn’t, but that’s what can happen if you have dementia – you forget. So he would end up not being fed, something that could have been avoided if they had just stuck to the care plan.”

Sandra, 60, of Whitley Bay, added: “There was a similar problem with them failing to administer eye drops for his glaucoma correctly.

“The care plan made it clear there should be 12 hours between treatment, but they’d give him them at 11am and then again at 6pm.”

Alexander, of Wallsend, died in 2014, aged 94, and was survived by wife Joan, who was also diagnosed with vascular dementia the same year.

She is now in a care home in Gateshead where Maria and Sandra say her treatment is superb.

Hazel Cuthbertson, Alzheimer’s Society regional operations manager for the north east, said: “There is simply not enough money invested in the social-care system. Home-care workers are crying out for more dementia training – without it their hands are tied behind their backs.

“We need the Government to support empowered and well-trained home-care workers who can transform dementia care in this country, allowing people to live independently and in their own homes for longer.”