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Partnership announced to improve dignity and care for older people

The NHS Confederation has joined Local Government Group (LG Group) and Age UK to establish a commission on improving dignity and care to older patients in hospitals and care homes.

The Partnership on Dignity in Care initiative will be launched at Age UK’s Improving Essential Care event today, 20 July.

Senior leaders taking charge

The commission will be jointly chaired by NHS Confederation chair Sir Keith Pearson, chair of Age UK Dianne Jeffrey, and chair of the LG Group's Community Wellbeing Board, Councillor David Rogers.

It will involve senior leaders from across health and social care coming together to take evidence from the full range of relevant groups – from specialist clinicians and healthcare leaders to patient advocacy groups – to get to the root of what needs to happen to improve care.

Reports of inadequate care

The commission has been established in light of a series of reports on dignity and compassion in care ranging from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust inquiry to the Health Ombudsman’s report on patient complaints.

The NHS Confederation, the LG Group and Age UK will use the commission to understand the aspirations of older people and their families for dignity and care, to establish what really works to improve care, to identify good practice examples from across health and social care, and to drive change and improvements to the dignity and care provided to older people in hospital and residential settings. 

Calling for evidence

It will gather information through a call for written evidence and up to three oral evidence sessions, which will hear from nurses, doctors, patient representatives and leaders across the health and social care sectors. 

NHS Confederation viewpoint

NHS Confederation chairman Sir Keith Pearson said: "We have seen too many reports highlighting unacceptable levels of care in health and social care. It should not be an option for any part of the service to provide anything but the highest standards of dignity and care to its patients. Getting it right for every patient, every time is a big challenge, but it can be done.

"Regulation has a critical role to play in shining a spotlight on minimum standards, but it cannot deliver the more comprehensive cultural and organisational change that may be necessary. This is an industry problem and the industry must own it.

Seeking ‘warts and all’ picture

"This commission will hear evidence from across the system. We want a warts and all picture of where care is going wrong and how we can put it right. Some of the evidence sessions may be uncomfortable listening for those of us who lead the health and social care system. But it is only through an honest look at the issues that we can come up with the right solutions that will work on the ground.

“The NHS Constitution says that the health service touches our lives when care and compassion are what matter most, and this is undoubtedly true when providing care for older people and support for their families. I welcome the opportunity to work with the LG Group and Age UK to make sure that the values outlined in the NHS constitution become a reality for all older people when they access care.”

Age UK viewpoint

Dianne Jeffrey, chair of Age UK, said: “We hear all too often about the appalling care of older people in hospitals and care homes but horrifying headlines alone do not change practice. This commission aims to build understanding of why and how older people’s essential care is going wrong and to set out practical solutions for getting it right in the future.”

LG Group viewpoint

Cllr David Rogers, Chairman of the LG Group's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "There is widespread and legitimate public concern about the poor experiences some patients and residents have experienced. The LG Group is very keen to play our part in finding practical ways in which we can raise standards and eliminate bad practice."


The commission hopes to report its findings in spring 2012.

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