Some British families are sending elderly relatives with dementia to Thailand for care, it has been revealed.
Researchers visiting private care homes in Chiang Mai found eight homes with guests from the UK, whose families had decided suitable care in their home country was impossible to find or afford.
Dr Caleb Johnston, a senior lecturer in human geography at Newcastle University, told the Guardian that Thailand already has a long history of medical tourism and is now setting itself up as an international hub for dementia care.
There are an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. Local authority residential care costs up to £700 a week, with private care around £1,000. Staff-to-guest ratios tend to be around 1:6.
In Thailand, patients receive 1:1 around-the-clock residential care with fully-qualified staff in award-winning facilities that cost around £750 a week.
“There aren’t yet any official numbers as to how many people are moving out to Thailand to receive care,” said Johnston. “Relative to the total number of people living with dementia, it is a low number. But with the number of people with dementia set to increase, and the cost of looking after them also getting higher, it is likely to be an option that more and more people consider.”
Paul Edwards, director of clinical services at Dementia UK, said it was an emerging market that could become more popular “because our failing and ailing system – which no politician is even trying to find a solution for – causes fear for those whose loved ones have to use it.”