People caring for a relative with dementia need more understanding from local health authorities and less inflexibility over assessments.
So says leading charity, Alzheimer Scotland, which this week commented on complaints about a lack of support from NHS Borders for local carers.
The charity’s comments came after Peebles resident, Monica Subrique, highlighted one case, in a letter to The Southern, of a friend’s struggle to look after her elderly father who suffers from both dementia and double incontinence.
She explained:“They have tried a number of products to manage this and support him, but by far the most beneficial were the pull-up type pads.
“However, following a continence assessment by NHS Borders, it turned out they refused to supply these, telling her that she would have to use the much harder to use, but cheaper, folding nappy-type pad.
“It seems NHS Borders would rather people with dementia struggled and were made to experience indignity and needless restraint, rather than pay to supply this resource.”
Alzheimer Scotland believes what is needed is more understanding of the particular and inevitable challenges that dementia always brings.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “The presence of a dementia should always tell any professional that this is a very special situation for both the individual and their carers, and that means special room has to be given in any assessment and in any outcome.
“Dementia changes nearly everything and if it has not been properly factored into an assessment then the assessment is incomplete and frankly wrong.”
However, NHS Borders director of nursing and midwifery, Evelyn Rodger, said that although the authority’s incontinence service was often asked to supply pull-up type pants, these were not necessarily the most clinically appropriate product for the patient, according to the assessed criteria.
And she confirmed that pull- ups will not be provided to patients experiencing frequent and/or heavy incontinence as more clinically-appropriate products are offered in such cases.
The nursing director added: “We are happy to discuss with individuals any concerns they may have in relation to the incontinence products recommended.”
But Alzheimer Scotland says managing incontinence at home is a huge challenge.
The charity spokesperson added:“When you think this is being undertaken by a husband or wife who may themselves be physically less able and caring 24/7 for someone who is confused and very ill, this hardly seems a time to be sticking to the rule book.
“In terms of cost, helping carers to care is the most cost-effective investment for the NHS – that absolutely needs to feature in any decision.”