NHS training gap compromises dignity of dementia patients

NHS hospital staff are struggling to uphold the dignity of patients with dementia or end-of-life conditions due to a lack of training, the Healthcare Commission said today.

The finding came in a report on inspections of 23 hospital trusts it had already identified as being at risk of missing national standards on privacy, nutrition or dignity in care for older people in the regulator’s annual performance check. Just five were found to have fully complied with all three standards on inspection.

While the Healthcare Commission said it was encouraged that the right systems were generally in place to maintain dignity in care, it identified several problems, including with dementia and end-of-life care.

Most trusts were finding it difficult to engage with and care for patients with dementia because of a lack of staff knowledge and inadequate training. Staff also found it difficult to ensure one-to-one support or private space for older people with end-of-life conditions.

The commission said trusts needed to improve on involving patients in their own care, particularly those from minority ethnic groups, some of whom did not receive food that met their needs.

Many trusts were struggling to provide single-sex accommodation due to pressure on beds, and patients with stroke or MRSA were being placed in mixed settings because staff found it easier to cope with them as a result.

It called for greater commitment from trusts to promote dignity, mandatory attendance by staff on training courses on equality, diversity and dignity, and disciplinary action in cases where dignity is compromised. It also called for greater encouragement for older people to get involved in their care, alongside their relatives.

The Healthcare Commission warned it would carry out unannounced inspections of trusts where its evidence suggested a lack of dignity for older patients.

Help the Aged director of policy Paul Cann said the report showed progress had been made but said it was “intolerable” that only five of the 23 trusts met all three standards.

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The Healthcare Commission said that just five of the trusts complied with all the standards and said eight had received notification letters saying they confirming  at risk of missing the standards in the regulator’s annual assessment of NHS performance.



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