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News - 1 March 2012

Compassion in the care for the Elderly

Being compassionate in the care for the elderly is just one of the recommendations of a series made by the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People to improve standards in hospitals and care homes in England.

In total, the commission published 48 draft recommendations which will be consulted on over the next month before a final action plan is published in the summer.

The group said too many vulnerable people were currently being "let down".
The review comes after a series of critical reports into elderly care. Cases of neglect have been documented by the likes of the Health Service Ombudsman and Patients Association in the past year.

And so the commission was set up by Age UK, the NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association to set out a blueprint for how the NHS and social care sector should tackle the issue.

The measures cover issues such as making dignity a priority at board level, encouraging staff at all levels to challenge bad practice and ensuring patronising language, such as "old dear", is not used.

The report said language which denigrates older people should be as unacceptable as racist or sexist terms.

One of the authors of the report, Sir Keith Pearson, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that dignity was "the essence of proper nursing".

Lavinia Newman of ABDS says:

“People need to be aware that 60% of patients in hospitals are now over the age of 65 and they need to be able to show compassion and kindness, and it is absolutely critical that hospitals and care homes employ safe numbers of nurses with the correct skill mix.”

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