Brain damage patients are being “compelled” to live in care homes with residents decades older than them due to a lack of resources, a watchdog has warned.
The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland says those with alcohol-related impairments (ARBD) could even be having their human rights breached.
It has produced a new report analysing the care and treatment on offer, making four key recommendations.
The MWC is also warning against perceptions that alcohol-related brain damage is “self-inflicted” – with patients often left marginalised and isolated.
Few resources for alcohol-related brain damage
Across Scotland, there are more than 550 people with an ARBD diagnosis and a welfare guardian in place. This could be a friend or family member, or someone appointed by a local health team.
Typically the condition affects memory and thinking skills, as well as a person’s general independence.
For this new study, the MWC spoke to 50 patients – half of them under-65, with the youngest in their 30s.
And of the 17 people in this age bracket living in care homes, just one was receiving specialist support for their condition.
It means many people are left living in 24-hour care homes with others who are decades older and could be frail, have progressive dementia or other degenerative conditions.
The MWC said this can leave people feeling “out of place”, away from home and with limited opportunities to build new relationships.
Possible breach of human rights
It has warned that some patients could be having their human rights violated.
Chief executive Julie Paterson said: “We found many of the people we met were living in care homes where they were much younger than the other residents.
“Those commissioning services must consider whether they are breaching the person’s human rights if the person finds themselves compelled to live in a setting which they would never choose.
“We make recommendations about areas of care and treatment we believe could and should work better, and we will follow those up.”
What happens next?
The watchdog has made four recommendations to health and social care partnerships across the country.
- Services should be suitable, age-appropriate and, where possible, specialised
- Delegated welfare guardians should be named and maintain regular contact
- Any reviews of services should focus on “outcomes, the placement, and the powers of the order”
- Strategic plans should include a focus on the accessibility of advocacy support