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A new review from Healthwatch England has revealed that fewer than half of people with a dementia care plan from their local council receive the yearly care review they are entitled to.

Healthwatch England listened to over 700 people who spoke about their dementia care experiences and analysed data from 97 councils about whether people’s needs are being met to discover whether people are getting the right dementia support as their condition deteriorates.

As dementia is a progressive disease and there is no known cure, the condition can have major impacts on the individual and their carer, meaning that regular care reviews are vital.

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The Care Act (2014) states that everyone who uses social care must have at least one review each year. However, Healthwatch England has found that this is often not the case.

Key findings

Only 45 percent of people with dementia, who use social care, are reviewed annually. Healthwatch England states that councils must ensure that these reviews are happening to meet the requirements of the Care Act and to make all care plans responsive to people’s changing needs.

People don’t always have a clear understanding of the support available to them and how to access care.

On average, people wait over two months between requesting support for dementia from the council, to that support being put in place. However, by the time that people ask, they are often at crisis point.

People with dementia are more likely to receive unplanned reviews triggered by an emergency or sudden event than general social care users.

One third of people with dementia, using long-term care services, did not receive any review, whether planned or unplanned.

Recommendations

From its findings, Healthwatch England says that councils should ensure that people with dementia, with eligible care and support needs in accordance with Care Act guidance, should have a personalised care plan in place, subject to review at least once a year.

In accordance with guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), local authorities and social care providers must provide information and advice during the care planning and assessment process in a manner that is clear, transparent and accessible.

Local government needs to get better at capturing and using data to know whether they are compliant with the Care Act. They need to make sure that people know their rights and where they can go to get support.

Healthwatch England’s Imelda Redmond CBE said: “Dementia can have a devastating impact, not just on the person with the diagnosis, but also on families and carers. It is a condition that gets worse over time. As such, it is vital that support is set out in care plans and is responsive to people’s changing needs.

“To be responsive, care plans should be reviewed regularly, and the Care Act 2014 sets out how councils should do this. As a minimum, plans should be reviewed annually. But our research highlights that this is not happening – in fact only 45% of people with dementia received a planned review last year.

“Whilst councils and services are undoubtedly under pressure, people with dementia and their families cannot be left to manage alone without the right support.”

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