A code has been published which sets out the minimum standard of treatment required for older people in hospitals or in the community.
The Dignity Code, created by the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), aims to preserve the personal dignity of older people in the UK and is supported by people in the care industry and many politicians.
Those who have signed the code include care minister Paul Burstow, shadow care minister Liz Kendall, the Care Quality Commission’s Dame Jo Williams, the Royal College of Nursing’s Dr Peter Carter and Lord Stewart Sutherland, chair of the Royal Commission on long-term care.
NPC general secretary Dot Gibson said: “Providing someone with personal dignity must be a basic requirement in any care setting - and there must be no excuse for denying someone their right to be treated with respect. The Code should be seen in every GP surgery, social services department, hospital ward and nursing home.
“Individuals and their families should have confidence that certain practices will be unacceptable and that they can demand better treatment. This is the first step on the long road to getting 21st century care for Britain’s older patients.”
The code calls on nurses and carers always to obtain consent for treatments and demands that elderly people be allowed to “speak for themselves” - either directly or through a friend or relation.
It also says that older people should usually be addressed formally, rather than by their first name.