Age UK backs Dignity Code calls
Published on 22 February 2012 12:30 PM
Age UK has joined forces with politicians and regulators in calling for a new Dignity Code which would ensure that older patients are treated with respect and dignity by NHS nurses and care workers.
A letter sent to the Daily Telegraph has called on hospitals, care homes and other institutions to help prevent cases of abuse and neglect by agreeing to a set of common standards for care professionals for the first time.
Care Minister Paul Burstow and his Labour shadow Liz Kendall joined industry chiefs, including Age UK, the Royal College of Nursing and TUC, in signing the letter, which calls for everyday practices which diminish the dignity of older people to come to an end.
The letter stated: 'For too long, too many of those people have been ignored, denied the basic right to speak for themselves or make up their own mind. In this era of human rights, too many older people have seen their basic human dignity undermined in situations where they are treated as objects rather than people.'
Drawn up by the National Pensioners' Convention, it is hoped that the guidelines could eventually be included in the contract of care workers.
The code calls on nurses and carers always to obtain consent for treatments and demands that older people be allowed to 'speak for themselves' - either directly or through a friend or relation.
It also says that older people should usually be addressed formally, rather than by their first name.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK said: 'All too often older people are not treated with the care, compassion, dignity and respect they deserve and this needs to change across the system.
'Dignity needs to be a priority for all those responsible for delivering care and should be a staple of every care setting. Age UK, through the Dignity Commission, will be setting out what practical solutions need to be implemented to improve dignity in essential care for older people in hospitals and care homes. These recommendations, based on robust evidence, will be available for consultation next week.'
Copyright Press Association 2012