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Scottish hospital checks underway on older care

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An inspection programme of standards of hospital care for older patients is underway in Scotland.

A report on the first hospital to be inspected, Glasgow’s Western Infirmary, was published yesterday.

The hospital, run by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Glasgow, received an unannounced visit from Healthcare Improvement Scotland in February. The inspection focused primarily on nutrition and hydration, and on care for patients with dementia or cognitive impairment.

Chief inspector Susan Brimelow said the majority of interactions observed between staff and patients were positive and a strategic plan had been developed to evaluate the care of patients with dementia.

“However, we also found areas where improvement is required,” she said. “For example, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde does not have a tracking system for patients with dementia who are moved to other areas in the hospital, and not all nutritional assessments are being carried out either on admission or throughout the patient’s stay.”    

Every general hospital which cares for older people will be inspected, as part of the inspection programme.

Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “All NHS boards have been left in no doubt that they must act now to improve the care of older people in hospitals and to learn the lessons from the HIS reports as they are published over the coming months.”

HIS was asked by the Scottish Government to carry out the inspection programme to provide assurance that older people were being treated with compassion, dignity and respect while in an acute hospital. It follows a similar programme by the Care Quality Commission in England last year.

The inspections focus on the three national quality ambitions for NHSScotland, designed to ensure the care provided to patients is “person-centred, safe and effective”.

The inspections also look at one or more of the following areas on each visit: dementia and cognitive impairment; falls prevention and management; nutritional care and hydration; and preventing and managing pressure ulcers.

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: “We’re pleased that the inspectors found good practice in a number of areas and that most of the interactions between staff and patients, for example, were positive. 

“This, and future, inspections, focuses on reviewing care of older people in hospital against a range of standards and best practice.

“While this is a good first step, we believe it’s important to understand why processes and procedures are not being consistently followed, so that any barriers to improving care can be dealt with and shared across the whole organisation.”

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