An article in today’s Telegraph reveals that a study of 20,000 hospital admissions has concluded that 12 per cent of pensioners arriving from care homes are worryingly dehydrated. It has been reported by Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that these statistics come at the same time as concern grows that care home staff do not want to clear up after incontinent residents. This raises questions over the levels of care provided in such care homes. 

The study examined the records of pensioners who were admitted to Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust between January 2011 and December 2013. The disturbing figure of high sodium levels for patients being admitted from care homes was 20 per cent. This compares to a one per cent figure of pensioners attending from their own homes. Further investigations into these figures concluded that the risk of high sodium levels was more than five times greater for those admitted from care homes. 

Natalie Churney, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP, comments: “These findings undoubtedly raise concerns about the level and quality of care provided to elderly patients within care homes. The alarming figures for high sodium levels in care homes are leading to questions about adequate support for drinking.

"Patients who are admitted to care homes are usually vulnerable, elderly people. A large number have a high reliance on care home staff and this is paramount in determining their quality of life and ability to function. Older patients depend on the assistance of staff to keep them fed and watered and care homes must do more to deliver this compassionate care. Dehydration can lead to death, particularly in elderly patients, and a death of this nature is completely unacceptable and should be avoided at all costs. 

"We are seeing an increase in enquiries from people concerned about the care their loved ones are receiving in both the community setting and in hospitals. These concerns cover issues such as pressure sores, avoidable falls, and dehydration. We consider that the care of elderly and vulnerable patients needs to be kept high on the NHS agenda, especially given that our population is ageing.”