As pre-election debate rages about the pressures on the NHS, an
exclusive poll for Community Care has found that nine out of 10
social care professionals working with older people believe they
are being discharged from hospital too early.
The survey of 1,450 professionals, the second in a pre-election
series commissioned by the magazine, found 89 per cent believed
pressure on beds led to premature discharges. Also, 93 per cent
believed many admissions could have been prevented in the first
place if the needs of the older people had been met earlier.
Worryingly, half of the respondents said they did not agree that
most staff working with older people were adequately trained. Only
a quarter believed older people received good care in hospitals and
residential care homes.
The views of professionals were endorsed in a separate survey of
nearly 2,000 members of the public, with 83 per cent saying there
would be less pressure on hospitals if care was better in care
homes or the community.
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Paul Burstow said he was
not surprised by the findings of the surveys. “There is an issue
about the quality of care that is being provided in hospitals and
care settings and there is a big challenge in how we
professionalise the whole of the care sector,” he said. “It is
essential we move to register the rest of the workforce and have a
much more ambitious drive in terms of training.”
The surveys, part of Community Care’s Election 2005 campaign,
were complemented by a report from Gillian Crosby, director of the
Centre for Policy on Ageing, which calls for a strategic approach
to addressing the needs of older people.
As well as looking at the raw deal older people get in pension
provision and service delivery, the report also points to the
discrimination the over-50s face in employment, and calls for
ageism to be challenged in all its forms.