Care for the elderly

12th March 2012

Last week in parliament not for the first time, nor the last I suspect, politicians debated the age old question of how we care for our elderly.

With a police investigation into the death of an elderly resident at the Elsie Inglis Nursing Home in Edinburgh and the collapse of Southern Cross, our largest healthcare provider, the parliament’s Health Committee which I convene launched its inquiry into the regulation of care for older people.

The inquiry achieved some very positive results. Unannounced inspections will increase and it will be made easier for people to make complaints and have their issues addressed.

Nevertheless, I welcome the government’s recognition that more needs to be done to ensure that we have the best possible health care for our elderly where ever they are, in the community, in hospital, or residential care.

To do this I believe equality and human rights issues must be at the very heart of our care system. The right to be free from carless neglect, the right to protection from pharmaceutical abuse commonly known as the medical cosh, the right to privacy, and the right to live as independently as possible must be enshrined into the National Care Standards for the elderly.

Equally important is the value we place on those who provide care to the elderly. Only last week Audit Scotland pointed out that there is too much focus on cutting cost as against improving quality. As we know those who work in the area are often poorly paid, poorly treated and poorly trained.

If we truly want to improve the quality of our care to the elderly that needs to change.