OLDER PEOPLE IN HOSPITALS

C Q C is the national healthcare watchdog and carries out various surveys on aspects of care. In one of their recent surveys carried out 'unannounced', fairly severe failings have been detected. Many older frail dependent in-patients have been found not receiving the levels of care they need. This is mainly in the areas of feeding. And is resulting in malnutrition of such patients. In addition the issue of 'dignity in care' has also been raised. It seems that in many instances , older patients are poorly handled and their 'wishes' are not fulfilled. We have heard about such behaviour to the frail older people many times before. Does this mean that our NHS , a matter of pride and joy , is institutionally ageist !! The Police force was once labelled as institutionally 'racist' ; is it something similar? Yet the Government has repeatedly promised to 'erase' any kind of age -discrimination in health care and to take 'action' where such behaviour is noticed. As regards nutritional intake , all elderly infirm and dependent patient must be thoroghly assessed at the time of admission and their 'dietary care plan' properly drawn up. The qualified nurses may be busy in more 'technical' matters , so there should be a few feeding-assistants to help such patients when necessary. It has been noted that many frail elderly patients actually lose weight during their hospital stay. Their 'illness' itself would place them in 'negative nutrition balance' anyway , hence they must be given 'more' nutrition just to stay at their usual level.

Age- related discriminatory behaviour is extremely common in the society and the staff in hospital are no exception; but as 'professionals' they must not behave like any other person. They should set an example in a non-ageist approach to older people. That is the minimum we should expect of them

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