Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

What are the standards in elderly care?

It was interesting to hear Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis call for zero tolerance approach to the abuse and neglect of older people.

One is impressed by the interest shown by various charities and newspapers, but it must not be forgotten how successive Governments have contributed to this problem.

When Project 2000 Training was being touted as the answer to all nursing ills, the Government introduced health care assistants who would have six months training. When Kenneth Clarke became Secretary of State for Health he abolished training at the stroke of a pen.

Since 1997 the Labour Government has been obsessed with audits. Modern nurses spend much of their time in (largely) meaningless form filling to prove they are delivering standards.

One would argue that administrative paper exercises combined with an untrained support workforce does nothing to protect elderly people from abuse.

What is needed is a complete overhaul of the system. It is unrealistic to expect care home owners to provide the training which care assistants require. The Government should fund training.

Funding to nursing homes should be increased to provide additional qualified staff which are desperately required and an elderly persons' ombudsman appointed to act as the voice of the elderly.

The primary responsibility for protection of elderly people rests with the Government and its public agencies.

JOHN ORR (Retired Nurse) Seaforde

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