Government responds to the Francis Inquiry

The first inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust  catalogued extensive examples of neglectful care and appalling patient experiences. Stories of people being ignored, dehydrated, abused were visible signs of an organisation that had forgotten basic principles of care and at worst, wilfully put organisational considerations ahead of patients. Many, if not most, of the patients involved were older people.

The second inquiry reported in February and included 290 recommendations
that could help to avoid the same situation arising again, not just in Staffordshire, but throughout the NHS. You can see what we said about it in our blog. 440x210_care_home

The government yesterday gave its response to the report in a paper titled Patients first and foremost, and there’s much to be positive about in what it says.

The paper outlines changes to how services are regulated, reflecting an on-going review by the health and care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It describes much wider use of expert inspectors in hospitals including members of the public that bring expertise derived from their experience of care. Continue reading “Government responds to the Francis Inquiry”

Mid Staffordshire Inquiry Announcement

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

What happened in the Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust was a truly sickening and extreme example of when training, professionalism, management, and structures all individually and collectively failed very vulnerable frail patients.

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 Care

Few in the health sector could claim that Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust was an isolated case. Most of us have heard accounts of similar failures in care in our local hospitals or care homes, some relating to individual wards, others more widespread.

Today is a watershed moment for the NHS: 31 months after the  Francis report was commissioned the final report was published on the 6th February. The report makes 290 recommendations on how to improve the system and we must once and for all take this opportunity to make the deep and lasting changes that are required. A ‘sticking plaster solution’ is not going to be acceptable and will certainly not be enough to reassure millions of older people and their families. Continue reading “Mid Staffordshire Inquiry Announcement”

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”

Understanding dignity in care

In July we launched a new project with the NHS Confederation and the Local Government Group to examine the standards of care older people receive in hospitals and care homes. The ‘Commission on Dignity in Care’ aims to understand why older people continually face poor standards of care and what changes will help to drive improvement.

The Commission was established in light of a series of reports ranging from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust inquiry to the Health Ombudsman’s report on patient complaints. We regularly read reports criticising the unacceptable levels of care and the Commission hopes to come up with some practical solutions to combat these problems. We know that some hospitals and care homes are delivering excellent care and we want to share what it is they are doing and how they have done it. The truth is that we rely on NHS services and move into care homes when we are often at our most vulnerable and in need of high quality care and compassion. The Commission hopes to identify how leadership, values and culture can be influenced to ensure that people are treated as individuals and standards of dignity in care are improved.

Last week we held the first oral evidence session as part of the Commission’s enquiry. This first evidence session was very encouraging in the openness and frankness with which all the participants spoke. Perhaps the strongest point which was made a number of times was the failure of hospital and care home staff to treat people, who may have multiple and often complex health needs, as well as emotional needs, as individuals. Kathryn Hudson, Deputy Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said she felt that in some places a culture exists which fails to respond to the whole person and instead treats patients as a ‘nuisance.’ Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman suggested a ‘zero tolerance approach to neglectful behaviour’ was needed.

Whilst we won’t be able to make recommendations until we have heard all the evidence even at this stage it is possible to identify some of the commonly cited problems; poor discharge planning, failure of hospitals and care homes to deal with complaints and absence of care plans or failure to properly follow plans. Advocacy schemes, better data and improved training were seen as part of the solution. Sharon Blackburn from the National Care Forum said problems often stemmed not from a failure of technical competence but rather from the way in which care was delivered, and that good relationships between staff and patients or residents created the conditions for ensuring dignity in care.

Further oral evidence sessions will be held this month then the commission will consult on a draft report and recommendations and plans to publish a final report during the spring of 2012.

Find out more about the Commission on Dignity in Care

Read the Terms of Reference for the Commission