The health service could save £28m by introducing a “joined up approach” to diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and dementia, a charity has said.
Charity Action on Hearing Loss urged NHS England to “substantially improve the quality of life experienced by people with dementia and hearing loss - and save taxpayers £28m each year” by leading change to the services.
In a report called Joining Up, which was published last month, the charity called for the national dementia strategy - now overseen by NHS England - to be reviewed to “ensure that funding is provided to meet the needs of people who are deaf or have hearing loss and also have dementia”.
It said that would “ensure timely diagnosis” and “reduce the risk of exacerbating dementia symptoms and the need for expensive residential care”.
The report recommended the introduction of an adult hearing screening programme for 65 year olds, and for “opportunistic and targeted hearing checks” to be introduced in other services and settings, such as in pharmacies, care homes, medical consultations for other conditions, and alongside other health checks.
It said 37,400 people in England who are deaf or hard of hearing and have dementia go into care homes each year, and that improving diagnosis and support in the community would reduce residential care home placements by 28 per cent, resulting in a £28m annual saving.
The report also called for research to develop better diagnostic tools, specialist services and guidance to support people with hearing loss and deaf people who also have other long-term conditions.
It was written with University College London’s deafness, cognition and language research centre.
Action on Hearing Loss chief executive Paul Breckell said: “There would be additional significant savings for the taxpayer if the care for people with other long-term conditions like Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes or sight loss took account of the hearing loss affecting many of these people.”
An NHS England spokesman said: “NHS England, with a range of other stakeholders, is working with the Department of Health to look at whether any further practical steps could be taken to address the issues that affect people with hearing loss, including those suffering from dementia”