Melanie Hornett: Elderly care in good health

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Most of us will attend hospital at some point and it is part of my job to ensure that the care you receive when you do is safe, effective and focused on individual needs.

I was the first to admit that improvements had to be made following last year’s care of older people’s inspection. Significant progress has been made and, while there is always more to do, it is encouraging to note that Healthcare Improvement Scotland now regard us as performing well in how we care for older people.

We have several initiatives in place that enable staff to deal with the fundamental issues regarding older people’s care, such as protected meal times where staff concentrate solely on assisting patients with their meals.

There were some areas which the inspectors felt could be improved and we have already addressed each of these through an action plan.

Dementia is increasing and we are making efforts to accommodate the needs of this patient group.

We are now rolling out a programme of environmental improvements, making wards more dementia-friendly. Improvements include colour schemes to make it easier for patients to identify locations and facilities such as bathrooms.

We have invested considerably in dementia training for our staff and we are piloting new approaches, including a dementia-focused room at the Western General which has been well received. We also employ the only nurse consultant specialising in dementia in Scotland.

Assessing, developing and improving how we work is fundamental to NHS Lothian and we are committed to providing high quality, erson-centred care for all.

Melanie Hornett is nurse director with NHS Lothian