Older people deserve better care in hospitals and care homes

This blog was contributed by Dianne Jeffrey, Chairman of Age UK and Co-chair of the  Commission on Improving Dignity in Care. 

Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL, Chairman of Age UK and Co-chair of the Commission on Dignity in Care
Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL, Chairman of Age UK and Co-chair of the Commission on Dignity in Care
I have always been clear that dignity and compassion must be at the heart of our health and care system.

This is why, in June last year, the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People (made up of, Age UK, NHS Confederation and the LGA) published its report, Delivering Dignity. It was the culmination of hundreds of written submissions and oral contributions from experts, clinicians and patients. In this report we set out a raft of recommendations for changing the way we design and deliver care as the numbers of older people who need care continues to grow. Continue reading “Older people deserve better care in hospitals and care homes”

Working together to support older people

The Autumn Statement announced bleak growth figures and more cuts ahead, reminding us all, once again, we face hard times and unprecedented and prolonged pressure on public services many of which older people rely.

This is why now, more than ever, we all need –  the government, public, private, and voluntary sectors and individuals – to work together to meet the challenges and maximise the opportunities our growing ageing population presents.

Age UK, together with our national and local partners, is playing its part. In 2012 we reached over 7 million older people with our information and advice services, our handy person service visited nearly 14,000 homes and we helped more than 65,000 older people keep active and healthy through our Fit as a Fiddle programme. In tough economic times we understand supporting people in later life to make informed choices and maximise their wealth, health, independence and wellbeing is important for the individuals and helps drive down inefficient and unnecessary costs in our public services. Continue reading “Working together to support older people”

Action event on improving dignity in care for older people

Today Age UK along with the NHS Confederation and LGA is hosting an action event on improving dignity in care for older people.   The day will give practitioners, commissioners and service representatives from across the health and social care sector a chance to get further involved in ensuring the delivery of dignified care.

The action event is following on from the Commission on improving dignity in care for older people in hospitals and care homes – the final report can be viewed here.

Discussions today will help us to ensure that the long-term action plan we are developing with our partners at the NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association is informed by those commissioning, providing or receiving care.  This plan will focus on working with our members and partners across health and social care to support delivery of the Commission’s recommendations.

The event will include a keynote speech from Sally Brearley, Chair of the Nursing and Care Quality Forum in the Department of Health. There will also be an overview of the Commission’s recommendations on improving dignity for older people in hospitals and care homes, this will provide opportunities to comment on how the Commissioners believe these now can be implemented. Continue reading “Action event on improving dignity in care for older people”

Delivering dignity

This blog was contributed by Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL, Chairman of Age UK and Joint Chair of the Commission on Dignity in Care.

After many years’ service in health and social care I have seen much in both to be proud of. I have witnessed excellent examples of compassionate care, met many dedicated staff and seen how high-quality services have transformed lives.

Yet I have also been deeply saddened by the knowledge that in too many cases care has fallen short of these standards, letting people down when they are vulnerable and most in need of help.

Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL, Chairman of Age UK and Joint Chair of the Commission on Dignity in Care
Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL, Chairman of Age UK and Joint Chair of the Commission on Dignity in Carecare has fallen short of these standards, letting people down when they are vulnerable and most in need of help.

That is why I have been delighted to co-chair the Commission on Dignity in Care; an independent commission established by Age UK, the NHS Confederation and Local Government Association to bring together expertise from right across the care system, including nursing, social care, medicine and commissioning with the voices of older people and their families.

Our aim was to help health and social care sectors to find long-term solutions to tackling poor care that work on the ground.  We recognise that this is a difficult task, there are no silver bullets. Instead we wanted to understand the roots of poor care and find ways to support people to take action in their own organisations.

Today, just a little under a year since we began, we publish the Commission’s final report Delivering Dignity. The report’s main message is clear. Leaders in the health and social care sector must drive a “major cultural shift” to tackle the underlying causes of poor and undignified care of older people throughout care homes and hospitals.

The NHS already has ‘never events’, things that are considered so serious they should never happen, like operating on the wrong part of the body. The Commission has recommended ‘always events’,  things which should never be forgotten and should be considered as basic rules for the delivery of dignified care in every hospital and care home.

This may all sound a bit theoretical at first glance. However our report has made 37 clear recommendations for steps that could practically be taken by people at every level from front line staff to board members. Ultimately it is the individual actions of people in the system doing the right thing which adds up to major change.

Delivering dignity will mean changing the way we design, pay for, deliver and monitor care services as the numbers of older people in care continues to grow. Alongside the consistent application of good practice and the rooting out of poor care, we need a major shift in the system to ensure care is person-centred and not task-focused.

This will require empowered leadership on the ward and in the care home, as well as a lead from boards and senior managers. It will also mean changing the way we recruit and develop staff working with older people.

We have to work with older people to shape services around their needs, and listen to patients and residents and their families, carers and advocates so we learn from their feedback and continually improve dignity in care.

We are also clear that it is the leaders of health and social care who are responsible for driving better quality care.  Regulation and government action has a critical role to play, but it cannot alone deliver the cultural and organisational change that may be necessary.

In February we published an interim report to consult on our proposed recommendations. We were overwhelmed by the hugely positive response it received, with over 230 responses from across the health and social care sector, patient groups, members of the public and professionals. This clearly demonstrated to me just how passionately people feel about getting care right for older people.

Our next challenge is harnessing this passion and commitment to drive forward implementation of our recommendations.

I don’t underestimate the scale of this task and know we won’t see changes overnight. But from the very beginning we were determined that this wouldn’t be just another report that sat on shelf gathering dust.

In the autumn we will be launching an action plan. We will be seeking to work with people from across the health and care system, professionals and older people to make sure change happens.

Find out more about the work of the Commission and read the final report

Find out more about Age UK’s Care in Crisis campaign