[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 2 Issue 4, November 2011].
The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) has commented on the recent CQC report with a creditable candour and clarity of vision:
“…while upsetting, the findings of the report do not come as a surprise. Although older people account for the majority of hospital users, the NHS has not come to terms with this fact and sadly many ageist attitudes prevail. Furthermore, there is an assumption that there is no need to teach staff about what compassion, empathy, dignity and humanity in routine care means to the patient, and their next of kin. Healthcare professionals are not automatically empathetic and compassionate and role models are needed. Attitudes are crucial and many staff find it difficult or intimidating to challenge poor behaviours, whether ageist or undermining dignity, particularly when these are observed in more senior staff. Observations should continue to be carried out unannounced by the regulator but there would be considerable benefit if members of the multidisciplinary team could regularly observe and feed back about what was happening on their wards. In addition, seeking prompt feedback from patients and visitors could be used to routinely monitor behaviour and attitudes on wards. If comments are fed back directly to staff involved, attitudes can be challenged and improvements made”.
The British Geriatrics Society recently made a detailed submission to the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care (of older people), which was set up by the NHS Confederation, the Local Government Group (LG Group) and Age UK to investigate situations where older people receive sub-standards levels of care in hospitals or care homes. See the second link below for the full text of the BGS response, which complements and expands on the response from the RCP.
Thorpe, T. (2011). CQC report: too many failing hospitals. London: BGS, October 13th 2011.
Morris, J. Martin, F. Wyrko, Z [and] Harris, IJ. Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People. London: BGS, September 18th 2011.