AT LEAST 1,400 vulnerable people will spend Christmas on a hospital ward – well enough to go home, but trapped because of a social care system starved of funding, according to a charity.

The Alzheimer’s Society has warned a desperate lack of available homecare and care homes is ‘turning wards into waiting rooms’, after its investigation revealed people with dementia are being delayed up to ten times as long as those without the condition.

There is no cure for dementia, so it is ’social care, rather than the NHS, that people with dementia rely on every day. But with a £2bn social care funding shortfall, there is not enough support for people with dementia, the charity says.

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Research found that last year people with dementia spent 500,000 extra days in hospital, despite being well enough to go home, at a cost to the NHS of over £170 million.

Prolonged stays in hospital have life-changing consequences for people with dementia – many become too frail to be discharged to their own home, with some sadly dying before being discharged.

Danielle Copper, Alzheimer’s Society operations manager for North and South of Tyne, said: “With such scarce social care funding, wards are being turned into waiting rooms, and safety is being jeopardised.

“From the woman who spent two months on a bed in a corridor because there were no available care home places, to the man who died after months of waiting left him debilitated by hospital-acquired infections, people with dementia are repeatedly falling victim to a system that cannot meet their needs.”

Dawne Garrett, Royal College of Nursing, lead for the care of older people and dementia, said: “The college was very concerned to see no extra resources announced for social care in last month’s budget, and backs Alzheimer’s Society’s call for increased funding for local authorities so that they can give more support to people leaving hospital”.

The charity is urging people to unite and join its Fix Dementia Care campaign to demand action to improve dementia care. http://alzheimers.org.uk/fixdementiacare.