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Improving older people’s hospital care

02 December 2011

1111.30Dignity_ntreharne001 Web(left to right) Professor Michael Calnan, Dr Jocelyn Cornwell, Professor David Oliver (seated), Simon Read (Cesagen), Jill Byrne, Peter Tyndall, Ruth Marks, Professor Tony Bayer, (seated, School of Medicine) Meirion Hughes and Dr Win Tadd

Action to tackle the sometimes shocking standards of hospital care for older people was priority at a high-level University-hosted conference.

Leading figures from nursing, hospital management, policy-making and older people’s groups discussed the findings of the recent Dignity in Practice research report – and solutions to the problems it uncovered.

The study examined dignified care for older people in acute NHS wards in England and Wales and found highly variable standards.

The study authors, Cardiff’s Dr Win Tadd of the Centre for the Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen) and Professor Michael Calnan of the University of Kent, presented their findings which included:

  • Poorly-designed, confusing and inaccessible wards
  • Concern about nearby patients of opposite gender
  • Demoralised staff with poor caring skills
  • Patients frequently moved to meet organisational priorities
  • Boredom through lack of communal spaces and activities.

Other speakers included Professor David Oliver, National Clinical Director for Older People’s Services, England. Ruth Marks, the Commissioner for Older People Wales, talked about the older person’s experiences specifically in Welsh hospitals. Meirion Hughes, a trustee of Age Cymru, gave a perspective from his own experience as a service user. Jill Byrne, Director of Nursing at Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spoke about the strategies being implemented to ensure patients are treated with dignity and respect. Dr Jocelyn Cornwell talked about the King’s Fund’s Point of Care campaign to improve patients’ experiences in acute hospitals. Kathryn Hudson Deputy Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman England and Peter Tyndall, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales also spoke.

Dr Tadd said: "We know that dignified care can greatly improve older people’s health outcomes. Having established there is a wide variety in standards, the point is now to change things. This conference discussed solutions from a number of perspectives – patients, service users, policy-makers and health managers. It was an extremely valuable event and we are hoping it will yield positive proposals that will make a real difference on acute hospital wards."

Ruth Marks, Older People's Commissioner for Wales commented "I was pleased to speak at the Dignity in Practice conference with the much needed focus on hospital care. It was a good opportunity to share research and findings between ombudsmen, academics and the Commission in a way which strengthens our calls for older people’s dignity to be central to their hospital experience. It was great to hear about established good practice and solutions to issues from all over the UK, which need to be shared more widely to improve the lives of older people across the country."


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