The Commissioner for Older People, Claire Keatinge, has welcomed the focus of the RQIA Review of Care of Older People in Acute Hospitals and said that the recommendations need to be implemented without delay.

Claire Keatinge said:

It is essential that the rights, quality of life, dignity and care needs of vulnerable older people are at the heart of planning, delivery, regulation and inspection of healthcare services.

“The RQIA report contains some useful recommendations which should improve the experience of the older person, should they find themselves in an acute hospital setting, but it also presents some worrying findings, including the compromising of patient privacy and dignity.

“Older people deserve to have confidence, that if they become ill or frail, that they will receive high quality, person-centred care. This requires adequate levels of staffing, training for dealing with dementia, and ensuring certainty in the quality of care provided for older people in hospitals, and so many recommendations contained within the report are to be welcomed.

“It is important to understand that this report shows the sharp end of a bigger issue. Older people need and deserve the best possible care, and this must be planned for and implemented alongside improvements in acute hospital settings. More investment and support for community-based care services such as domiciliary care is crucial to reduce avoidable hospital admissions.

“By enabling older people to live dignified and fulfilled lives for longer through investing in support services to their own homes we can reduce pressure on acute hospitals and improve the quality of healthcare provision for older people in Northern Ireland."