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Dementia patients not allowed to use toilet

Heather Lawrence was shocked at the state she found her 90-year-old mother, Violet, in when she visited her in hospital.

"The bed was soaked in urine. The continence pad between her legs was also soaked in urine, the door wide open, no underwear on. It was a mixed ward as well," Heather says.

"I mean there were other people in there that could have been walking up and down seeing her, with the door wide open as well. My mum, she was a very proud woman, she wouldn't have been wanted to be seen like that at all."

Violet, who had dementia, was taken to Tameside General Hospital, in Greater Manchester, in May 2021, after a fall. Her health deteriorated in hospital and she developed an inflamed groin with a nasty rash stretching to her stomach - due to prolonged exposure to urine. She died a few weeks later.

Heather tells BBC News: "I don't really know how to put it into words about the dignity of care. I just feel like she wasn't allowed to be given that dignity. And that's with a lot of dementia patients. I think they just fade away and appear to be insignificant, when they're not."

New research, shown exclusively to BBC Radio 4's File on 4 programme, has found other dementia patients have had to endure similar indignity.

Dr Katie Featherstone, from the Geller Institute of Ageing and Memory, at the University of West London, observed the continence care of dementia patients in three hospitals in England and Wales over the course a year for a study funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

She found patients who were not helped to go to the toilet and instead left to wet and soil themselves.

"We identified what we call pad cultures - the everyday use of continence pads in the care of all people with dementia, regardless of their continence but also regardless of their independence, as a standard practice," Dr Featherstone says.

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Source: BBC News, 21 June 2022


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