Page last updated at 06:56 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

OAP 'champion' Ruth Marks to review dignity in hospital

Ruth Marks says concerns over cleanliness, dignity and respect will be the subject of her first review

The respect and dignity older people have in hospital is to be examined in a review by Wales' "champion" for the elderly.

Ruth Marks said she had heard of "serious concerns that need to be looked at", including the use of mixed sex wards and the cleanliness of wards.

It is her first review since taking up her post in April 2008.

The former Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dame Deirdre Hine, will chair the review.

Ms Marks said around 40% of hospital in-patients in Wales were aged 65 or over.

Yvonne Hurcombe, health campaigner, Swansea, who was unhappy at the difference in care her late mother received on a hospital general ward in 2000 compared to her father, who died at a hospice.

"It's wrong that, depending on what you die off, how you are treated and how many staff are going to look after you."

"We had to try to help with her toilet needs. It's the dignity, then, of having to see to her toilet needs. I didn't mind doing it, but it shouldn't have been me, it should have been the staff.

"It's all those little things that would have made a big difference to her."

She said: "I want to identify and tackle any standards of care which may exist that are simply unacceptable in 21st Century Wales."

These included the continued use of mixed-sex wards, failure to alleviate bed sores with pressure relieving mattresses, cleanliness of wards, and older people fearing recriminations if they complain, she said.

Iwan Rhys Roberts, from Age Concern Cymru and Help the Aged in Wales, welcomed the review.

He said: "It is vital that we establish why dignified care remains a problem for older people.

"The debate around dignity must continue, it cannot remain static and it should be frequently reviewed."

Sarah Stone, deputy commissioner for older people in Wales, said: "In the end it's about making things better for older people.

"There are so many people who are working within the health service who want to see things improve and I very much hope that they will see that this as a means of helping them to do that."

She said the terms of the review would be discussed with Dame Deirdre and it was aimed to report by March 2011.

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