Charity’s own research shows carers desperately worried about social care
National disability charity Vitalise says that the shock findings of a new Alzheimer’s Society report into residential care for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia point to an even deeper problem.
Responding to the Alzheimer’s Society’s new report, ‘Low Expectations’, which found that only 41% of relatives of loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia said they enjoyed a good quality of life in residential care, Vitalise’s research has revealed that the problem extends to people with other disabilities and their carers too.
The Vitalise study found that 6 out of 10 carers (57%) experienced huge feelings of guilt at the prospect of sending their disabled, frail or elderly loved ones into residential care even for just a few days, and that worries over the quality of residential care is preventing family carers from taking up much-needed respite opportunities.
Significantly, the study also found that 7 out of 10 carers surveyed felt that a break from caring, even for a few days, was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ and that carers want more choice and control over their respite care and short breaks.
Currently, the majority of respite places for disabled or older people are spare beds in nursing homes, where the visitor has to fit into the homes’ fixed routines. This often results in considerable feelings of guilt and worry on the part of the carer.
Vitalise is warning that unless the causes of carers’ negative feelings about respite care are addressed, many carers will be too worried to consider taking any respite from caring at all and will end up putting their own health – and that of the person they care for – at risk.
As the population ages and more people than ever before are in need of respite care, the charity is urging respite service providers to pay more attention to the fundamental issues of quality and choice in respite care in order to avert a worsening problem.
Vitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds said:
“The Alzheimer’s Society report is shocking but sadly it comes as no surprise to us. What our own study clearly shows is that family carers have no confidence in the quality or suitability of the respite care on offer.
“The sad fact is that carers’ fears are quite justified. In many cases respite care amounts to little more than warehousing for disabled or older people, so it is not surprising that carers would rather struggle on at home, risking their own health in the process.
“Vitalise is 50 years old this year and what we have found over the years is that carers’ worries and guilty feelings are eased if the focus is on providing excellent quality of care combined with good food, activity, new experiences and the chance to enjoy the company of others.
“Unless the fundamental issue of quality in respite care is addressed, this problem will only get worse. Access to regular, good quality respite breaks for people with disabilities and those who care for them should not be considered a luxury but an absolute essential in enabling families affected by disability to carry on coping.”
Vitalise is a national charity providing essential breaks for people with disabilities and carers. Vitalise provides essential short breaks in a holiday environment for people with disabilities – including Alzheimer’s and dementia – and carers at three accessible UK centres in Chigwell in Essex, Southampton and Southport. Each centre provides 24-hour nursing care on-call, personal support and a range of accessible excursions, activities and entertainment.