There has been much concern recently about the care of older people in care homes, in their own homes and in hospital. Throughout the year, there have been calls from the Home Affairs Committee, the Healthcare Commission and the Department of Health to promote respect and dignity and in August, Comic Relief published disturbing figures on the ill-treatment and neglect of older people by their relatives and carers. People with dementia are most at risk.
But if we really do care for people with dementia we must not turn away from criticism. We must see it as a call to enhance good care and challenge and reject the bad. Health and social care organisations need to work together to provide training and supervision, support good practice and challenge poor practice.
Of course, nursing older people, especially those with failing mental powers, is neither simple nor easy. But it can be hugely rewarding for nurses with excellent communication skills and sensitivity, as this special edition of Nursing in Care Homes shows.
People with dementia find it more difficult than others to communicate their needs and wishes, and they are the most vulnerable to inappropriate care. They can benefit hugely from skilled nurses who combine the best of nursing – technical knowledge and tender loving care.
Chief executive, Commission for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, and former chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society