Comment: How we care for our elderly reflects on us all

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THE lack of duvet covers on a ward may not seem like the most serious failing in a hospital.

Indeed, we would not want to suggest it is any reflection on the standard of care at the Royal Edinburgh hospital.

The medical staff who look after those diagnosed with dementia are dedicated professionals doing a very difficult job.

However, it goes without saying that they desperately need the resources and support to be able to do their job properly.

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland said the lack of duvet covers at the hospital – which was blamed on laundry services being centralised – and the lack of personalisation in rooms of those who had been there for several years did not “reflect well in relation to the dignity of patients”. We have to agree.

Leaving aside the obvious hygiene issues, clearly creating an atmosphere as comfortable as possible for the patients is vital. It is simply not good enough to blame a delayed laundry truck.

Edinburgh has an ageing population, demand for these services will only increase, and how we care for our elderly reflects on everyone.

Budgets are being tightened and the way services are being delivered is changing but throughout it all we have to ensure the level of patient care provided is maintained.

The people being treated in these wards for such a cruel illness could be anyone’s father or grandfather.

They and their families deserve far better.

The NHS says the recommendations have already been acted upon and changes have been made to prevent a repeat.

Failing on such a basic measure and being picked up on an announced visit does, however, remain worrying.

We hope bringing this situation out into the open will mean these basic standards improve and the staff who care for some of Edinburgh’s most vulnerable residents are allowed to get on with what they do best – treating patients effectively with dignity and respect.