Hospital care for older people compromised by lack of nurses
The RCN has called for minimum staffing levels of one nurse per seven patients to be brought into force to address the situation, which it says is affecting everything from basic communication to care for the dying.
The revelation comes from a survey of almost 1,700 nurses, which found that staffing levels on older people's wards were much lower than on general wards. Eight out of 10 of the nurses surveyed said that basic support for older patients was compromised, while shockingly a third said they did not have time to help people properly with eating and drinking.
The news comes after recent reports from both the Patients Association and the Care Quality Commission slammed the standard of care for elderly people as 'shocking'.
The findings of the survey echo the sentiments of some of the older people we have represented in medical negligence cases at JMW. As hospital patients, older people can be very vulnerable and their care needs can sometimes be overlooked. In our experience, it is often when basic checks are not carried out that preventable injury is caused.
Short staffing is often at the heart of this and guaranteed staffing levels, as they have in Australia and the US, could make an impact. However, hospital care for older people has been lambasted by several different quarters, signalling the need for a shift in culture. Older patients who are admitted to hospital deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and above all, for their stay to be as safe as possible.