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Care staff 'must stop patronising language'

Published on 29 February 2012 10:30 AM

Condescending language used by care home staff towards older patients should be as unacceptable as making racist or sexist comments, according to a report.

The Commission on Dignity in Care, an independent body set up by the NHS Confederation, Age UK and the Local Government Association, said terms like 'old dear' and 'bed blocker' have to be banned.

Demanding an end to 'persistent failings' in the care system, the group also said more should be done to ensure health professionals empathise with their patients.

They said if a medical or nursing student is unable to show enough compassion they should not be allowed to enter the profession.

As part of 48 recommendations to improve care standards, the report states that universities and professional organisations 'must satisfy themselves that applicants have both the academic qualifications and the compassionate values needed to provide dignified care'.

Under the review's proposals, the responsibility for patients receiving dignified care should fall on hospital ward sisters.

If they felt patients were not being treated properly it would fall on them to take action to rectify the situation.

In a joint foreword, the three co-chairs said: 'Like many others, we've been deeply saddened by the reports highlighting the undignified care of older people in our hospitals and care homes.

'We want this report to be a call to arms to the whole health and social care system. We need to work together to earn back public confidence. We know there are some hospitals and care homes providing great care, and we need to learn from them to get dignified care right for every person every time.'

Dianne Jeffrey, Chairman of Age UK, commented: 'Over the past few years we have seen report after report detailing shocking examples of care in our hospitals and care homes. Older people are all too often on the receiving end of care lacking in dignity and compassion and too many cases bordering on the degrading and harmful. This is unacceptable and must now change.

'The Dignity in Care Commission came together determined to find out what was going wrong and why, to learn from the good practice that exists and to find practical solutions to the issues affecting dignity for older people. The Commission gathered evidence from health professionals across the NHS and most importantly, listened to the views and experiences of older people and their families in order to make recommendations to improve the experience of older people using health and social care services.

'The recommendations made in the interim report are what we collectively view as changes that need to be implemented immediately to give voice to older people and empower staff providing this care. Dignity in health and social care needs to be given a much higher priority. It is as important as medical treatment and is the solution to tackling the underlying causes at the root of poor care and a foundation to build upon for the future of NHS services.'

Copyright Press Association 2012

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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