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Page last updated at 09:20 GMT, Wednesday, 29 February 2012

'Recruiting for values' key to elderly care

The co-chair of the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care has said that staff caring for older people who do not show dignity "have to go".

Sir Keith Pearson was speaking to the Today programme's John Humphrys following a report which said that the values of people wishing to work in health and care services need to be considered along with their academic qualifications.

Sir Keith described dignity as "how you would like to be treated on a ward" and being seen as important by others - it is "the essence of proper nursing", he said.

He said he found it "baffling" to go to hospitals where the majority of wards provide very dignified care but where "dignity breaks down" on some wards.

The report suggests that where ward sisters are empowered to have ownership of the ward and set standards for staff, you get "an embeddedness of dignity and values", he said.

People who hire staff to care for older people should be "recruiting for values and then training for skills" afterwards, he said - a "root and branch" approach, "that must go all the way through the NHS".

"We need to prepare the new workforce of going into wards where 60% of patients are now over 65."

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