More people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems than ever before, according to an Alzheimer's Society report published this morning.
The study found 80 per cent of people living in care homes have dementia or a similar condition.
However, while the report says excellent care does exist, less than half of these people (322,000 people) are enjoying a good quality of life.
The report 'Low Expectations' finds evidence of a deep-seated pessimism about life in care homes.
Only 41 per cent of relatives surveyed by Alzheimer's Society reported that their loved ones enjoyed good quality of life. Despite this, three quarters (74 per cent) of relatives would recommend their family member's care home.
The report also reveals the severe image crisis facing the care sector. According to a YouGov public poll commissioned by the charity, 70 per cent of adults say they would be fairly or very scared of going into a care home.
In addition, two thirds (64 per cent) do not feel the sector is doing enough to tackle abuse in care homes. The charity argues that public attitudes and scepticism about whether people with dementia enjoy a good quality of life in a care home is leading to a failure to drive up standards of care. Alzheimer's Society is calling on government and care homes to work together to lift expectations and to strengthen existing minimum standards to boost quality of life.
The survey found less than a third (30 per cent) of the public believe people with dementia are treated well in care homes. The main factor (48 per cent) the general public would look for in choosing a care home is training of staff.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer's Society, said: 'When you walk into an excellent care home it's full of warmth, activities and interaction. But between these best examples and the worst, which often dominate headlines, there is a forgotten scandal of people with dementia who are failed and left living a life that can only be described as 'OK'.'