Minister Admits Food For Elderly People In Hospitals & Care Homes Remains Poor

Food for elderly people being cared for is still sub-standard, ministers say. Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis admitted care homes, hospitals and home care services were not getting it right despite repeated warnings by charities.

He said he had heard of elderly people being offered one scoop of mash for meals and trays placed out of reach. Campaigners said it had been a long-running problem and the elderly were being neglected “at a time when they need help the most”.

How elderly people are treated will become more important than ever over coming years as by 2025 the number of over 85s will increase by two thirds with each of them needing five times as much care from the NHS as adults under 44. Mr Lewis said: “Every older person whether in a hospital ward, residential nursing home or receiving home-based services is entitled to be treated with dignity.

“Older people and their families tell us that frequently people are not getting the proper support to eat and the food is not attractive enough and as a consequence of that people are not getting a balanced diet they need and that is having a negative impact on their health.”

He said there were many places who were doing a good job, but some were not, admitting he had heard of occasions where people had been given just a scoop of mash potato.

He said: “There is no excuse for it.

“We have said that respect and dignity for older people should be one of the country’s priorities.

“The way we treat our older people characterises the sort of country we live in.”

Paul Cann, director of policy at Help the Aged, said: “For too long, many older people have continued to experience care which fails to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“Access to food and drink is a basic human right which, as we hear today, is being denied to many older people within the care system.

“Good nutrition is vital to aid recovery and it is crucial that health professionals and carers are able to recognise signs of under nourishment.

“The fact remains that lack of priority given to older, vulnerable people in health and care sectors, means that many are neglected at a time when they need help the most.”