A hospital trust chief has issued a rallying cry to nurses to improve the way elderly patients in Brighton and Hove are cared for.
Duncan Selbie, who runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, said: “More than half our inpatients are over 75.”
He said: “Over the coming months our most elderly patients can expect an increasing focus on their needs as the hallmark of what we want to be known for.”
Mr Selbie, chief executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, did not mention the report published last month by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The report is the latest to criticise hospital care for the elderly, although the Royal Sussex was not one of the hospitals inspected.
The CQC looked at 12 NHS hospitals and found that three failed to meet the essential standards required by law. Patients were left hungry and thirsty.
Three of the rest raised issues of concern relating to dignity and nutrition in their care of older patients.
Only six of the 12 provided acceptable care.
Yet ten years ago similar complaints were being aired in a previous report, by the Health Advisory Service, which said that elderly patients were neglected, discriminated against and left hungry and thirsty.
And in 2005 the BBC TV programme Panorama screened footage filmed by an undercover nurse Margaret Haywood showing poor treatment of patients at the Royal Sussex.
Mr Selbie said: “While they are with us for an acute health problem the majority also have a combination of pre-existing conditions and complex social care needs which can make their hospital stay and discharge more complicated than for most other patients.
“For our elderly patients it matters especially that when we treat their acute health problem we also care about the whole person.
“Everyone who comes into contact with older people needs to get this right.
“The greater proportion of care is delivered by our nurses and therefore they have the greatest responsibility.”
At the trust’s annual nurses’ conference in May, chief nurse Sherree Fagge described her vision for nursing at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
It entailed a renewed emphasis on “getting it right every time” and “no more excuses for poor nursing care”.
We have a clear set of expectations in place which focus on the fundamentals of good nursing care
- pain control
- care of property
- care of the dying
Mr Selbie said that staff would be expected to focus on getting these right every time.
He said: “We are refreshing much of what we do to make sure this is the experience we offer.
“For example, to ensure patients are more involved in conversations about their own care we are making changes to the nursing handovers which have historically taken place around the nursing station or in the ward office.
“The handover of each patient is being moved to their bedside so that it is about them and with them and also a time to answer any questions they have about their care.”
In addition a “sit and see” initiative is to start.
An observer from another area of the hospital will watch the interactions between staff and patients, record what they see and give immediate feedback to ward teams.
On the five care of the elderly wards in the old Barry Building, from early next month, the trust is adding a qualified nurse on the late shift.
An extra healthcare assistant is being added on the night shift too.
The trust is also looking at ways to create an elderly care ward in the Thomas Kemp Tower to move a ward out of the Barry Building.
Mr Selbie said that in the trust’s Hospital Star Awards this year, elderly care consultant Dr Mark Bayliss won Doctor of the Year.
Mr Selbie said: “The things that were said about him, and about the other 561 people who were nominated, clearly show that most of our people are getting it right most of the time.”
One of the colleagues who nominated Dr Bayliss said: “Over the ten years I have been a nurse I have never met a more dedicated, patient, hardworking, empathetic, nice man and working as a nurse I get to see the things he does that go unnoticed.”
Mr Selbie said: “A better definition of getting it right would be hard to find.”
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