Charity calls for decent care and dignity for older people

DUANE Farrell, director of policy at Age NI said stories like that of Jackie’s father ‘‘demonstrate that many older people are being let down by the health & social care system and are not being treated with the compassion and dignity they deserve.’’

He pointed out that over 60 per cent of those in hospital beds today are aged 65 or over and many of them are frail, suffering with dementia and with complicated conditions.

“Age NI’s vision is quality integrated social care that recognises the rights, aspirations and diversity of us all, and is based on the right to live with dignity independence, security and choice. Compassion and empathy must be at the heart of all aspects of health and social care. This can only be achieved by bringing patients into the heart of the system.

‘‘What we urgently need is a comprehensive plan of action to transform culture and practice, as well as policy and systems, to ensure good care is delivered to every patient every time. Age NI firmly believes that we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity right now, with the Who Cares? Adult Review of Social Care to put things right and develop a social care system that has caring and people at its heart.

‘‘Delivering dignity will mean changing the way we design, deliver and monitor care services as the numbers of older people in care continues to grow. Alongside the consistent application of good practice and the rooting out of poor care, we need a major cultural shift in the way the system thinks about dignity, to ensure care is person-centred and not task-focused.

‘‘This will require empowered leadership on the ward and in the care home. Older people must be central to shaping services around their needs, and listen to patients and residents and their families, carers and advocates so we learn from their feedback and continually improve dignity in care. In many instances this is simply about treating people the way we would expect ourselves and our loved ones treated and can be as simple as making eye contact with, or speaking directly to an older person.’’