This blog was contributed by Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL, Chairman of Age UK and Joint Chair of the Commission on Dignity in Care.
Over the past few years we have seen report after report detailing shocking examples of care in our hospitals and care homes. In 2011 the Health Service
Ombudsman published its report Care and Compassionwhich told ten heartbreaking real life stories of older people subjected to undignified, degrading and harmful care. But the report was clear these ten accounts were the tip of the iceberg – they were not exceptional or isolated cases. So this begs the question ‘what exactly is going wrong in our hospitals and care homes? And what can be done to put it right?’
A determination to provide at least some of these answers led Age UK to join forces with the NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association to set up the Dignity in Care Commission. Our aim is to draw a line under the past, and focus relentlessly on what can be done in future to ensure each and every older person receives high-quality, dignified care.
The Commission has now published their interim consultation report. We have heard expert evidence from right across the care system, including older people and their families, nursing, social care, medicine, management and commissioning. We have heard a great deal about the problems in the system and the impact on older people. But we have also heard much that is positive, highlighting where people are working with compassion and dedication to get it right.
This report is not a repetition of well-documented problems. Neither is it a best practice guide, much excellent work already exists and we have no desire to reinvent the wheel. Instead, we have focused on how to tackle the underlying causes of poor care which too often means excellent practice and innovation does not flourish.
We now welcome views from the public, professionals and organisations across the system on the detail of this report. We want to know whether there is anything fundamental that we have missed, or whether we should go any further in the changes we recommend and why. Most importantly, we want to know what we can do to make sure these changes take place. This is not a report intended to sit on our library shelves, we are committed to working collectively to bring these recommendations to life.