A new report out this week shows that older patients face a “widespread and systematic” pattern of inadequate care in hospitals.
The report from the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the LSE, shows one million older people in later life are affected by poor or inconsistent standards of dignity and 1 in 3 people who needed help with eating in hospitals were not consistently receiving it.
The research has broken down data in the Adult Inpatient Survey for 2012 to provide this fresh, detailed picture of older people’s experiences during hospital stays. The report has developed a new approach to analysing the results, one that looks at the relative risks of receiving poor care as well as the overall numbers of people affected. And the results are deeply concerning.
The key findings show that amongst older people, poor or inconsistent care was more likely to be experienced by those aged over 80 and women. Risks were also higher for those with a long-standing illness or disability, such as deafness or blindness, those who were in hospital for a long period of time or those who stayed in three or more wards.
This is particularly worrying, as it seems the more vulnerable the older person is, the more at risk they are. Indeed, for an individual who experiences all these risk factors the chances of receiving poor or inconsistent care are estimate to be over 90 per cent.
The findings underscore just how big the challenge is in ensuring every older person receives the dignity they deserve in hospital.
Although more recent survey results show the NHS has seen an improvement in the headline figures of the number of people stating that they were treated with dignity, there is still clearly a long way to go.
Hospitals will need to redouble their efforts in improving dignity standards to ensure every older person is treated with dignity and has the support they need on every occasion.
Looking forward, the report says there should be a renewed focus on implementing the fundamental standards concerning dignity and nutrition introduced following the Francis Inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
It is also recommended that in hospitals where poor quality care is a cause for concern, the care of “high risk” patients – like older people with multiple conditions – should be monitored separately.
Turning this situation around should definitely be a top priority and no hospital can afford to be complacent.