Dignity is 'the essence of proper nursing' according to Sir Keith Pearson, chair of the NHS Confederation, and one of the authors of Delivering Dignity: securing dignity in care for older people in hospitals and care homes. I'm sure most nurses would strongly agree.
The consultation, published last week, has sparked headlines, by urging recruiters of health staff to put compassion on a par with being clever.
Containing the conclusions of a commission set up to tackle underlying causes of poor healthcare, the report contains 48 draft recommendations, designed to be practical. 'The last thing we want is to produce a report that generates more noise than practical action,' the authors state.
There are some sensible proposals that should be implemented. For example: 'Hospitals should carry out a comprehensive assessment of an older person's health and care needs before they are discharged. The outcome of the assessment needs to be discussed with the patient, family, carers and others such as the GP'.
However, the report also recommends: 'Hospitals should give staff the time and space to reflect on the care they provide and how they could improve.'
While this is true, it can hardly be achieved with current staffing. As RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter points out: 'It is absolutely critical that hospitals and care homes employ safe numbers of nurses with the correct skill mix. This is the key challenge that must be met.'
And why does this report focus purely on hospitals and care homes, ignoring the vast quantity of care taking place in primary care and community settings? The official line is that 'acute care is where a lot of older patients are treated' and the commission's resources are limited.
Provide your feedback at www.nhsconfed.org/dignity to make it clear that primary care and community nurses are key stakeholders, no matter what the consultation's focus implies.