Ageing and Society. 2006;26.
There has been debate for some years as to whether specialist facilities offer the
best model of care for people with dementia or whether integrated service provision
is more desirable. Research into this field is limited and continued uncertainty exists
as to the benefits of particular care regimes for people with dementia. The National
Service Framework for Older People (Department of Health, 2001a) however has recommended
that social services departments encourage the development of specialist residential
care for this service user group. This paper considers data from long-term care facilities
in North West England, collected via a postal questionnaire, that provide some degree
of service to people with dementia. Of the 287 homes that responded (a 73% response
rate) 56 per cent (n=162) described themselves as specialist services for older people
with mental health problems (known as EMI). It was envisaged that the EMI homes would
score more highly than the non-EMI homes on a number of standards measuring service
quality for people with dementia, developed from research and policy documents. However,
statistically significant differences were detected in only a minority of indicators
and non-EMI homes scored more highly than EMI homes on a small number of measures.
Both home types achieved high results on some standards. On many measures both EMI
and non-EMI homes were found to be performing to a low level. Overall services described
as EMI did not appear to offer a distinctively different service to those described
as non-EMI homes.