John Humphreys, the B.B.C. Radio 4 interviewer on the 'Today' programme, had two features on hospital care for the elderly on Thursday and Friday last week. It was pretty sobering stuff, based on the most recent report published by the Patients' Association.
On Thursday Michael Summers, Vice-Chairman of the Patients' Association spoke about :
" cases of dirt, being left in their own urine,soiled beds, blood around the bed...nurses not being available to treat them...a whole panoply of lack of dignity, a lack of care and lack of compassion."
The point was made that the majority of nurses treat us well, but here we have an unusually high number of nurses letting the profession down.
On Friday John Humphreys interviewed 2 nurses - Bob Purcell a nurse of 40 years experience and Rachel a graduate nurse with 2 years experience. He made the point that hospital care has changed dramatically : what had once been a few days in hospital was now a few hours ; nurses now do many jobs once done by doctors. He asked the question : Has the care and compassion been lost ? Before the interview he related some of the e-mails he had received after the first programme :
' The nurses did not speak to the patients, except to bark orders.'
' I watched as a nurse walked away, not to return when I told her that an elderly and confused gentleman had soiled his bed when he couldn't find the lavatory.'
' My mother was forced to walk to the toilet, despite crying out in pain when she tried to stand. I asked for a wheelchair or bed pan and was refused both.'
What was heartening was, to listen to Rachel, the nurse of 2 years experience confirm that nursing was about compassion and care. Bob with his 40 years experience made the observation that with young people with acute problems were whipped in and out. It was in the long stay wards and elderly care wards that the quality of care was lower.
I surmise from all this that :
If I am young and ill I'll be treated O.K. and it will be a quick in and out.
If I am old and ill and staying in for some time, there's a good chance I'll suffer from neglect.