Patient transfers – systemic incompetence or ageist neglect?

Posted on July 25th, by geoff in CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson

The Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) has said it wants NHS hospitals to provide better, more timely information when patients are discharged to nursing homes.

The RNHA quotes the Care Quality Commission as saying that care home staff often don’t receive even the most basic information about the people being discharged to them; that they may not be told about the medication the patient has been receiving in hospital. The RNHA says there should be standardised procedures for staff at both ends to follow in communicating key information. Well, quite.

It would be good to know some of the detail – it seems inconceivable that patient notes and a copy of the patient’s current medication regime are not routinely provided, along with a verbal handover. When I was nursing in the 1980s, in Australia, I recall telephoning nursing homes and reviewing the elderly person’s care plan with the receiving staff before they were discharged. Transport personnel were required to sign a receipt for the patient’s notes. So we were getting it right in Australia more than 30 years’ ago while the NHS seems still to be looking for the missing pages in their only copy of Florence Nightingale’s ‘Notes on Nursing’.

If hospitals aren’t giving nursing homes the information they need to provide safe and appropriate care as a matter of routine, this is of real concern – what confidence can we have in any of the NHS systems and procedures if it cannot get something as basic as this right? And if all the other systems and procedures are in fact robust, why is the NHS so appallingly incompetent when it comes to what should be a routine protocol for discharging elderly people? The only answer that comes to my mind is ageist neglect of a basic duty of care.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

2 responses to “Patient transfers – systemic incompetence or ageist neglect?”

  1. Debbie Sorkin says:

    It should be noted that the picture presented isn’t the same everywhere; I can think of a number of places where there are shared care records between primary and secondary healthcare, and social care; and also a number of social care providers – for residential and nursing care, albeit that the barrier is becoming blurred – who have deliberately fostered close links with local hospitals, in some cases to the extent of having video links for remote consultations and advice. And the Enhanced Care in Care Home Vanguards have also made real strides in linking up social and acute care. The key thing is how to spread the good practice and make people aware of it.

  2. geoff says:

    Yes, it would be good to have more detail. I am aware for example, that Sutton has just implemented a ‘Red Bag’ system, but all these these measures should have been standard procedure – everywhere – decades ago.

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