Calls for Care of Elderly People in Hospital to Improve

Thursday, 17th November 2011

Published 17 November 2011.

The Patients Association, a charity that provides a national helpline for healthcare patients, families and carers, has released a report highlighting 16 accounts of poor care received by patients in hospitals across the country. The report focuses on four key areas of care provision – communication, access to pain relief, assistance with toileting and help with eating and drinking – and demonstrates examples of patients having been failed in these areas.

Amongst examples used in the report was an elderly lady whose basic hygiene needs were not being attended to; an elderly lady who was left ‘desperately thirsty’ and whose toileting needs were being neglected; an elderly gentleman whose wife had to battle to ensure that basic comforts such as an extra pillow were available and who was left alone searching for staff as her husband passed away; and an elderly gentleman who was left without pain relief on arrival at hospital.

On launching the report, Patients Association Chief Executive Katherine Murphy said: “The accounts of care contained in this report shames everyone involved. It’s simply not good enough for this report to be recognised and then business to carry on as usual. There needs to be a culture shift in the way we treat patients on our wards. I would continue to urge patients experiencing similar care to contact our Helpline on 08456 08 44 55.”

This report follows claims by the Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) last month that standards of elderly care found in hospitals was ‘alarming’, and also warnings published by the Health Service Ombudsman in February 2011 that the NHS is failing to treat older people with care, compassion, dignity and respect.

In response to such reports, it will be vital that the Department of Health is able to oversee improvements in the quality of care received by elderly people in hospitals in the future, especially as demographic shifts will continue to increase pressures on existing services. In achieving this, it is considered that one important step is ensuring that appropriate services are available to elderly people in the community that enable them to return home once there is no medical reason to remain in hospital. This can not only improve the well-being of an elderly patient, but also reduce unnecessary pressures on hospital facilities.

Carefound is a provider of high quality home care services to elderly people in North Yorkshire, enabling clients to continue to live independently in the comfort of their own home whilst maintaining the highest quality of life achievable. Services provided include basic help in the homecompanionship and personal care, and the Carefound home care team is trained in specialist conditions such as dementia. The flexible service ranges from 1 hour to 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, including bank holidays, and can also encompass 24-hour Live-In Care services. Situated in the Harrogate area of North Yorkshire, Carefound offers a truly unique elderly care service with the individual firmly at its heart and is able to provide services to clients in surrounding towns and villages including (but not limited to) Harrogate, Wetherby, Knaresborough, Boroughbridge, Ripon and Thirsk. For more information please telephone 01423 774070 or visit www.carefound.co.uk.

Source: Carefound, The Patients Association, Age UK, BBC.