BBC's Panorama programme recently highlighted a shocking case of abuse in a London care home. This incident was appalling and the staff member responsible was rightfully jailed. While criminal abuse is rare, examples of poor quality care are all too common.
We often hear of people being left alone for hours or prescribed inappropriate antipsychotic medication. People with dementia are among the most vulnerable in society and make up one third of care home residents. They deserve the same dignity and respect as any other resident.
Nobody in the caring profession wants to do a bad job but too often staff are not being given the support they need. Dementia is not the same as ageing, it is caused by diseases of the brain which can cause memory problems and difficulties communicating, particularly in the later stages and when in unfamiliar surroundings.
This can cause anxiety, agitation and aggression; good quality training is crucial to give staff the tools they need to do their job well. Unless we repair our broken and underfunded care system, we will continue to hear examples of inadequate support and even abuse.
Now is the time to take action. As part of the Prime Minister's Dementia Challenge, a dementia champion group on health and care has been formed to look at how we ensure people with dementia receive the support they need and a good quality of life. Alzheimer's Society is fully behind this and we are encouraging care providers to sign up to the Dementia Care and Support Compact - a commitment to delivering high quality care for people with dementia.
We also want ministers to address the care funding crisis which sees people with dementia paying hundreds of thousands of pounds for care, or unable to access care at all. Local authorities must increase minimum requirements for dementia training and quality; care regulators should set out public care quality ratings based on users' opinions. We are also calling for a stronger role for lay inspectors.
To restore public faith in the caring profession, it is vital to ensure that high quality care is delivered and to stop incidents of abuse.
Andrew Chidgey, director of external affairs, Alzheimer's Society