Nursing care of older patients must be improved, particularly the control of pain, the author of a national report on hospital mortality has told Nursing Times.
The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death report, published last week, found that two thirds of older patients who died in hospital following surgery had not received “good care”.
The study, which examined the care received by nearly 800 patients aged over 80 who died in hospital within 30 days of undergoing surgery, found one in five did not have their pain assessed.
Report co-author Kathy Wilkinson said that investment should be made to improve the general nursing of older patients and, in particular, the management of their pain.
She urged senior nurses to put pain on observation charts and said more nurses trained in managing acute pain were needed.
“We must ensure that this group of patients is not left in pain, however difficult it might be to communicate with some of them because of hearing and other problems, or how stoical they may appear,” Dr Wilkinson said.
Nurse consultant specialising in care of older people at Ealing and Harrow Community Services Linda Narzarko told Nursing Times: “The important lesson here is that all nurses should be trained to look after older people at pre-registration level.
“Older people have particular needs and are 80 per cent of NHS patients so we must all know how to look after them properly.”
Ms Narzarko added that all trusts should have a specialist nurse consultant.
Royal College of Nursing adviser Ian Hulatt said: “Whilst traditionally older person’s care may have had a difficulty in recruiting nurses, the care of the older client is now everybody’s concern, and health professionals need to be prepared in initial and ongoing training to meet the needs of this client group.”