Happy old peopleNew standards published today for NHS Scotland aim to improve the care of older people in hospital. A key goal of the standards is strengthening the involvement of patients and carers in discussions and decisions about the care that is delivered.

NHS boards in Scotland are now expected to work towards meeting these standards. Each standard includes a statement of the level of performance that NHS boards are to achieve. The new standards build on the previous standards from 2002, with a greater focus on initial assessment on admission and more complex aspects of care.

Standards 1 to 3 emphasise the principle of person-centred care: giving older people the opportunity to say what is important to them when they are cared for in hospital, treating them with dignity and respect, and involving them in decisions about their care. These principles should be applied throughout the patient journey.
Other standards cover the management of frailty, assessment of cognitive function, effective discharge planning and a standard to ensure that older people are cared for in the right place at the right time.

The standards have been developed in recognition of the recent integration of health and social care services (for example, through setting criteria for multi-agency working in discharge planning), and will be used to support future hospital inspections of the care of older people that are carried out by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Speaking of the standards, Dr Christine McAlpine, Geriatric Medicine Specialty Advisor to the Chief Medical Officer and Chair of the project group, said: “This new set of standards has been developed to support staff to provide the best care for older people in hospital, wherever healthcare is delivered. Each standard details what patients, their representatives and the public can expect of healthcare services in Scotland. We believe that the new standards once implemented will support continuing substantial improvement in the care that older people receive.”

Sara Twaddle, Director of Evidence for Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “These standards demonstrate the importance of getting care for older people in hospital right and our organisation’s commitment to driving improvements in this area. The standards complement our ongoing programme of inspections for older people in hospital, and our national improvement programme focused on delirium and the identification and management of frailty.”