Nurses must be “leaders” in changing attitudes towards older people in society, the Royal College of Nursing has said in response to a critical report from the Care Quality Commission.
The CQC today published the overall findings of its spot checks on dignity and nutrition standards, carried out earlier this year at 100 hospitals. The report suggested half of hospitals were failing to provide all-round good nutrition to older patients while 40% did not offer sufficiently dignified care.
Responding to the CQC report into dignity and nutrition for older people, RCN executive director of nursing and service delivery Janet Davies described the examples highlighted as “deeply troubling [and] indeed shocking”.
She said every nurses was “personally accountable for their own practice and must act promptly to raise concerns if staffing levels or other pressures are getting in the way of delivering good care”.
She also said managers “must take responsibility”, noting that decisions about staff numbers employed, the availability of senior clinical nurses and the overall ethos of the hospital were “not issues that can be delegated”.
However, Ms Davies added: “Some of this goes beyond nursing, and is related to the overall attitude of society towards older people and their needs and dignity. It must be recognised that as a nation, the population is getting older and our attitudes have to recognise and embrace this.
“Nurses can and should be leaders in developing the right attitudes and ensuring that all older people are treated with respect and kindness both in healthcare and in the rest of their lives.”
Also commenting on the CQC report, Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “Poor quality leadership, under-resourcing or managers putting business before patient care, all contributes to failures.
“More regular inspection of management must be a priority. We know that some care staff are working in a culture of fear and intimidation.
“Staff must have the freedom to say when they aren’t coping, or need more resources, without being threatened. Care workers must know that their concerns will be taken seriously,” she added.