Sisters and charge nurses must be given more control over budgets in order to drive up patient dignity, a report on improving the care of older people has recommended.
The final report from the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People was published yesterday.
The document, titled Delivering Dignity, said ward managers should have “significant responsibility” for staffing and budgets, and should be able to control spending on equipment.
It called for sisters and charge nurses to take responsibility for ensuring the “right number of staff – with the right skills” were on shift, and to alert more senior managers if they thought this was not the case. It said managers in turn, had a responsibility to listen and act.
The report also recommended that providing emotional support to junior colleagues should be formally recognised as part of a ward manager’s role and that time be allocated for all staff to reflect on the care they have given to patients.
In addition, it called for student nurses to spend more time on older peoples’ wards as part of their training, and recommended nurses and doctors spend some training time together to enhance their understanding of each other’s roles.
The commission was set up by the NHS Confederation, Age UK and the Local Government Association to complement the public inquiry into the system failings surrounding Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
Members of the commission included NHS London chief nurse Trish Morris-Thompson and Heather Tierney-Moore, a nurse and chief executive of Lancashire Care Foundation Trust. Last year they heard evidence from patients, carers and a range of organisations involved in providing care for patients in hospitals, the community and care homes.
The report also called for more regular reassessment of older patients to help prevent errors, such as patients being left nil by mouth unnecessarily, and ensure that pain and nutrition are managed effectively.
However, it rejected calls for a minimum nursing ratio for older people or the regulation of healthcare assistants.
Commission joint chair Keith Pearson said there was a need for a “major cultural shift” in the way the NHS thinks about dignity to ensure “care is person-centred and not task-focused”.
He added: “This will require empowered leadership on the ward and in the care home, as well as a lead from boards and senior managers. It will also mean changing the way we recruit and develop staff working with older people.”
An interim version of the report was published earlier this year.