In response to the interim report and many other similar reports, Age UK has already acted by setting up the Dignity in Care Commission.
Age UK’s Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Enquiry (PDF, 98KB)
However, Age UK views the publication of the Francis report and the Government’s response as a very important moment: will the Government step up to the plate, recognise that the system of hospital care for older people is fundamentally broken and show it's up to the task of leading the process of root and branch reform?
Stronger regulation and accountability must be part of the solution but are by no means all of it. This problem is so serious that it demands strong political and professional leadership and a comprehensive plan of action to transform culture and practice, as well as policy and systems.
About the Dignity in Care Commission
The Commission was established in July 2011 by Age UK, the NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association.
This was in the wake of the Health Service Ombudsman’s report Care and Compassion that exposed shocking failures in the care of older people and that made clear that the experiences of people like Mrs H were not unique:
‘When Mrs H arrived at the care home… she was soaked with urine and was dressed in clothing that did not belong to her which was held up with large paper clips. She had with her several bags of dirty clothing, much of which did not belong to her, and few possessions of her own. Mrs H was bruised, disheveled and confused.’
Against this deeply disturbing context the Commission sought to understand why poor care persists and to put forward the best solutions.
The Commission was jointly chaired by Dianne Jeffrey, chair of Age UK; Sir Keith Pearson, until recently chair of the NHS Confederation; and Cllr David Rodgers, chair of the LGA Wellbeing Board.
The Commission produced its final report, Delivering Dignity, in summer 2012, with 37 recommendations impacting on many different aspects of policy and practice.
Download the Delivering Dignity Report (PDF 973KB)
The report concluded that there needs to be a major cultural shift in the way the system thinks about dignity to drive sustainable improvement.
Dignified care also means having a positive attitude to ageing and working together with older people, families, carers and advocates to shape care around individual needs.
Delivering dignity involves everyone working together to share and implement good practice so older people are always treated with dignity and respect.
Activity since publication of the Dignity Commission’s report
- In the past year the Commission has featured in over 1500 media reports, received 230 submissions from organisations, individuals and the public and participated on approximately 100 public platforms;
- The recommendations in the final report have received widespread endorsement from professionals, including for example the Royal College of Nursing, providers, policy makers and older people’s organisations;
- In places health and social care organisations have taken the initiative and have already begun to implement at least some of the Commission’s recommendations. For example individual wards and hospitals incorporating and pledging to the ‘always events’ laid out in the report.
Implementing the Dignity Commission’s report
A cross sector Malnutrition Taskforce, chaired by Dianne Jeffrey of Age UK, was established in autumn 2012 to take forward the recommendations concerning dehydration and malnourishment, two of the most frequently cited examples of poor care. The Taskforce should be in a position to publish proposals and move towards an implementation phase by early summer.
Working up a comprehensive implementation plan. The three main priorities are:
- Transforming culture and practice in hospitals and care homes
- Empowering older people, their families and communities
- Identifying the good work already happening and driving it through the system.