National Care Standards

To live without fear of neglect, to live as independently as possible, to be treated with dignity and respect, these are all things we hope for when we grow old.

We also want this for our elderly parents and relatives who have looked after us over the years. Indeed, we can be left heart broken when we find they are not getting the care they deserve.

This is why when the Health Committee published the findings of its inquiry into the regulation of care for older people in November 2011, we urged the Scottish Government to conduct a review of the national care standards to ensure that these fundamental human rights were at their heart.

At that time, the former health secretary Nicola Sturgeon responded positively and committed to a review. It’s taken over two years, but finally, the Scottish Government announced in Parliament last week that a public consultation on the standards will be launched this month.

Worryingly, however, it would appear that there may be further delays to come. In response to my question the present health secretary Alex Neil failed to provide an assurance that the new standards will be published by the end of the parliamentary term.

The need for urgent change was highlighted, when in a recent hospital inspection Healthcare Improvement Scotland found a frail elderly patient who was assessed as unsafe to swallow food or drinks, had been left without nutrition for 10 ten days after staff were unable to fit a feeding tube.

We can’t afford to wait another two years for action to be taken. It’s time we ensured that dignity, compassion and kindness are at the heart of all the care we provide for our elderly.