Care Quality Commission
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Older people must be treated with dignity and respect while in hospital, says healthcare watchdog

The Healthcare Commission this week welcomed the release of findings from the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights investigating older people’s rights in hospitals and care homes.

The Commission agrees more work needs to be done by healthcare providers to ensure older people’s rights are protected while in hospital.

Driving improvement in the dignity and respect given to older people in care is a top priority for the Commission.

Last year the Commission published its high profile report called “Living Well in Later Life”, with the Audit Commission and Commission for Social Care Inspection. The report suggested that “deep-rooted cultural attitudes to aging” were hampering attempts to improve services to older people.

Healthcare Commission Head of Long Term Conditions Amanda Hutchinson said:”
Treating older people with dignity and respect must become a cornerstone of care delivery for health services.

“Anything less could be a violation of that older person’s rights and it is vital we all do everything in our power to ensure those rights are respected.

“All those responsible for people’s care must work together to ensure fundamental rights are protected. They must look after older people as we ourselves would like to be looked after.”

The Commission agrees with the Joint Select Committee that the Human Rights Act has an important role to play in ensuring older people’s rights are protected while in care.

While the Commission is not directly responsible for enforcing the act, it is exploring ways of incorporating the principles into the core standards against which it assesses NHS trusts.

The Commission also agrees that access to a review of complaints is an important function of care delivery for older people, and all patients and the public.

Complainants have told the Commission that they want rapid resolution of their concerns. The Commission says this is usually best provided by the provider of the service complained about, as this has the most potential to improve services for patients more generally.

In some more complex cases there is need for further independent consideration of a complaint.

However, this does not mean that the case-by-case examination of complaints needs to be a role for the health regulator. There are other possible models and approaches to providing effective and independent examination of complaints.

The Commission is working with the Department of Health to develop and pilot possible alternatives for consideration as part of their current consultation on a new approach to complaints handling.

Notes to editors

Information on the Healthcare Commission

The Healthcare Commission is the health watchdog in England. It keeps check on health services to ensure that they are meeting standards in a range of areas. The Commission also promotes improvements in the quality of healthcare and public health in England through independent, authoritative, patient-centred assessments of those who provide services.

Responsibility for inspection and investigation of NHS bodies and the independent sector in Wales rests with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW).
The Healthcare Commission has certain statutory functions in Wales which include producing an annual report on the state of healthcare in England and Wales, national improvement reviews in England and Wales, and working with HIW to ensure that relevant cross-border issues are managed effectively.

The Healthcare Commission does not cover Scotland as it has its own body, NHS Quality Improvement Scotland. The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) undertakes regular reviews of the quality of services in Northern Ireland.

For further information contact Janine Maher on 0207 448 9313, or on 0777 999 0845 after hours.

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