Alarming number of young people with neurological conditions are receiving their care in homes for the elderly.

A recent survey carried out by the charity Sue Ryder Care has revealed that an alarming number of young people with neurological conditions are receiving their care in homes for the elderly.

The survey confirmed that 86% of people with neurological conditions in residential care were in care homes for older people. It also said that one in five of these people were under the age of 65.

Consultant Neurologist Professor Mike Barnes, who is Clinical Director at Christchurch Group, believes that although the survey was carried out across Scotland, the concerning results mirror the current situation in England.

“Sadly, the results of the survey don’t surprise me and if the same survey was to be carried out in England I imagine the findings would be similar. At the moment there is a grossly inadequate number of beds for people with a neurological condition who need long term care so they are placed into care homes, usually amongst older people.

“There are very few nursing homes that are dedicated to young people with ongoing health care needs which means all too often they will be placed into care homes with the elderly, perhaps amongst people who are living with dementia.”

Professor Barnes said he is concerned that younger people who go into care homes with older people may not be getting the therapy that they need and this could cause ongoing health complications and worryingly, their condition could even worsen.

The psychological effects of being in an older person’s care home could also be detrimental to a young person. There is a very strong possibility that they could become anxious and get upset. Ultimately, it could greatly affect their quality of life.

“Unfortunately there aren’t any long term placements for young people. There used to be Young Disabled Units which would provide ongoing care for someone with a neurological condition, but sadly these units have now closed and haven’t been replaced. It can also be difficult to source high quality community care packages that are specifically suited to the needs of the individual.”

All Christchurch Group centres offer residents a rehabilitation pathway delivered through expert lead consultants working alongside a team of therapists. Whilst they do not offer long term care placements, Professor Barnes feels that the right assessment at an early stage can make a real difference to the outcome for the patient.

“We worked with one family whose son was in a persistent vegetative state,” he said. “Obviously this was devastating for the family. We gave the patient a thorough assessment and changed his care programme, which had a massive impact. The man is no longer in a persistent vegetative state – in fact he can communicate with his family and is now able to receive his care at home. This is just one example of how the correct rehabilitation programme can make such a significant difference.”

Professor Barnes believes more funding is needed for good institutional care that can provide long-term placements. This needs to go hand in hand with high quality community-based care.

“The right care support package can maximise independence and recovery, equipping residents with the skills they need to return home or to a supported environment. That’s why it’s vital that people with neurological conditions receive the best possible level of care for them and their needs.”

The Sue Ryder report can be read in full by clicking here.