The independent review will deliver practical recommendations to improve clinical pathways for dementia patients
“Quality care can be a lifeline for people living with dementia, who are the biggest users of social care. However, they are too often faced with a system that is costly, difficult to access, and not personalised to meet their needs. High-quality care is vital to keep people safe and reduce the chance of hospitalisation due to avoidable falls or infections.” Kate Lee, chief executive, Alzheimer's Socoiety
A number of prominent charities and research organisations have banded together to launch a review into dementia-related hospital occupancy.
The Geller Commission is a collaboration between the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, UK Dementia Research Institute, the World Dementia Council and the Geller Institute of Ageing and Memory at the University of West London. It has been formed to carry out an independent review that aims to deliver practical recommendations to improve clinical pathways for dementia patients, ranging from pre-admission to hospital discharge.
It will investigate how the NHS can harness the UK’s research infrastructure, digital technologies and clinical excellence to improve care and reduce hospital admissions. The review will focus on three priorities:
Laurence Geller, founder of the commission, said at last week’s launch: “We know that too often, when people living with dementia are hospitalised, the care that they receive is not always appropriate for their condition, and their time in hospital can increase the velocity of the disease. It is my hope that by convening this commission, we can find practical solutions to improve the lives of people living with the impact of a dementia diagnosis and reduce undue pressure on the health service.”
Writing in the Nursing Times, Geller described the creation of the commission as a “significant step” in collective efforts to address the “national crisis of dementia”. He said the goal of the commission was to “enhance the lives of those living with dementia and mitigate the ongoing economic impact on our country by reducing unwarranted or avoidable dementia-related hospital occupancy in England.”
Noting that data forecasts project that dementia will cost the UK economy over £50bn per annum by 2025, equivalent to £1bn per week, Geller wrote: “The Geller Commission will focus on every stage of an individual’s journey, from pre-admission to hospital discharge. To address the root causes of avoidable hospitalisation, we will leverage a range of innovative resources including leading research and expertise from technology to nutrition.”
The commission is inviting input from everyone involved with dementia care, including nurses, neurologists, caregivers and people receiving care. They will be able to submit evidence through the Geller Commission website. Professor Anthony Woodman, provost and senior deputy vice-chancellor of the University of West London, said the Geller Institute of Aging and Memory (GIAM) would analyse the findings drawn from the public evidence. He added: “This is an opportunity to hear about what matters to people living with dementia from a variety of sources – importantly from people living with dementia themselves, and their care partners, families, friends, and health care practitioners – ensuring that those voices are heard and are at the forefront of any future recommendations and strategies to improve clinical pathways for those living with dementia.”
Kate Lee, the chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, noted that more than 900,000 people in the UK are currently living with dementia. She said: “Quality care can be a lifeline for people living with dementia, who are the biggest users of social care. However, they are too often faced with a system that is costly, difficult to access, and not personalised to meet their needs. High-quality care is vital to keep people safe and reduce the chance of hospitalisation due to avoidable falls or infections.”
She added: “Dementia is the biggest health and social care challenge of our time, and with an ageing population and prevalence on the rise the time for reform is now. A whole-system problem needs a whole-system solution – that is why we hope that this joint enterprise will gather the evidence needed to make real change for people living with dementia, and their families.”
As the population ages, the challenges of dementia care are becoming more pressing. By 2025, the cost to the economy will be £50bn a year and, as Kate Lee, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society says, it is the biggest health and social care challenge of our time. We do not have enough care workers to meet demand, and policy decisions about how best to fund dementia care have been kicked down the road. Too often people with dementia are left to languish in hospital because of a lack of care provision in the community – placing an added financial burden on the NHS as well as causing unnecessary stress to the patients themselves. We welcome the launch of the Geller Commission and its decision to invite evidence from all stakeholders, including patients themselves. A review of how care pathways are managed for those with dementia is long overdue, and we hope it is able to formulate a series of recommendations that will provide a clear way forward.