Healthcare Commission exposes failure of NHS trusts to treat elderly patients with dignity they deserve

Many elderly patients are being stripped of their dignity in hospitals due to failures in management and training, a health watchdog warned this morning.

A Healthcare Commission report revealed that just five of 23 NHS trusts it had inspected complied with all dignity-in-care standards.

Inspectors said that not all trusts had clear dignity policies, and many workers missed out on dignity training due to staff shortages.

Problems elderly patients had faced included inadequate curtains and locks on toilet and wash facilities, safety risks and being placed in mixed-sex bays. Less than one in five elderly people who needed help to eat said they received it.

The commission called for NHS trusts to appoint a board-level head of dignity improve communication of policy on the issue and make dignity, equality and diversity training ‘mandatory and ongoing’. It warned of unannounced inspections in the future.

Anna Walker, chief executive at the Healthcare Commission, said: “There is a critical challenge to ensure that all older people are treated with dignity all the time. Trusts must step up efforts to achieve this.”

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