Thursday, 13 October 2011


One of the ways you can judge a society is by the way that it treats its elderly. The report by the Care Quality Commission that of 100 hospitals they inspected one fifth of them were breaking the law with the care offered to the elderly should give cause for the greatest concern. According to the report in the Daily Telegraph: “After carrying out spot checks at geriatric wards in 100 hospitals, the commission found that 35 needed to make improvements, 18 were failing to meet legal standards and there were “major concerns” at two trusts.”

“Elderly patients in half of NHS hospitals are not being properly fed or cared for because of a lack of “kindness and compassion”, the health watchdog warns today.” Daily Telegraph 13/10/11.

Dame Jo Williams, the chairman of the CQC, said: “The fact that over half of hospitals were falling short to some degree in the basic care they provided to elderly people is truly alarming, and deeply disappointing. Too often, our inspectors saw the delivery of care treated as a task that needed to be completed. Those responsible for the training and development of staff, particularly in nursing, need to look long and hard at why the focus has become the unit of work, rather than the person who needs to be looked after, and how this can be changed. Task-focused care is not person-centered care. Often, what is needed is kindness and compassion, which cost nothing.”

I’m afraid that, in my experience this lack of care is not limited to care of the elderly in hospital. Emphasis is put on people being able to stay in their own homes which are obviously a good thing but to do so they will often need the care and support of “Care” workers. These days these are provided by private organisations, paid for by the people who receive the care and which range from the good to the totally terrible.

For example, an elderly lady, who needed daily care and help with using the toilet, was placed on a commode, stark naked, in her sitting room in full view of all who passed. As her house was situated on a busy road leading to the local Tube Station I suspect she was seen by quite a number of people hurrying to work at 8.00 am. My wife saw this and complained to the providers. Often this lady was left for hours on end in soiled clothes. There are many other examples I could quote which would demonstrate that the care of the elderly in the community is often no better, and often far worse, than care in hospital.

We should be ashamed that our elderly are subjected to this humiliating state of affairs; urgent action is needed to correct it.

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