Welsh Nursing Academy: Uncaring nurses 'should leave'

Elderly patient in hospital corridor
Image caption The NHS must recognise that the "typical patient" is an older person, says the Welsh Nursing Academy

A leading Welsh nurse has called for a "strong cultural shift" in the way her colleagues care for elderly people after strong criticism by an MP following the death of her husband.

Lorraine Morgan, president of the Welsh Nursing Academy, which promotes excellence, said those who did not show care and compassion should leave.

She spoke after MP Ann Clwyd condemned "indifference and contempt" of some.

The profession must admit mistakes so lessons can be learned, said Ms Morgan.

Ms Morgan told BBC Wales she felt "ashamed" and "very, very sad" at hearing Ms Clwyd's account of the care her husband Owen Roberts received at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

The Cynon Valley Labour MP broke down as she described the "coldness, resentment, indifference and contempt" of some nurses who treated her late husband.

Ms Clwyd said Mr Roberts, who had been treated for multiple sclerosis, had died "like a battery hen" in hospital in October.

Ms Morgan, a registered nurse with more than 40 years experience, said it reminded her of the care her aunt had received several years ago.

"It's our responsibility to deal with this... it's our responsibility to change," she said.

"We have to persuade people that this is done properly... we have to hold our hands up and say I am ashamed of that practice. It's all about attitude and supporting nurses to display the values that they've learnt about.

'Bowed down by environment'

"So you can encourage people to be more compassionate than they actually are but you have to have that value inside you and sometimes you're working in an institution where that's driven out.

"And if it is driven out then I don't think you should be working here [in the profession] any more."

Image caption Ann Clwyd says her late husband's experience in hospital had given her nightmares

Ms Morgan also suggested that nurse education and practice programmes were not right for caring for older people.

"It's a cultural thing - whenever you move into a large institution," she said. "I'm not saying your values actually change but maybe they change in the way that you use them.

"And some nurses can be bowed down by the environment that they work in."

The call comes on the day that the Welsh Nursing Academy, an independent body established in 2006 following a review by the Welsh government, publishes a "position statement" on the care of older people - a set of recommendations designed to ensure that the elderly get better care in the NHS.

It calls for a "strong cultural shift on leadership and nursing practice in relation to the older person".

It also said that the NHS and its staff needed to recognise that the "typical patient" was an older person and that the Wales strategy for older people needed to be embedded in nurse education, practice and care management.

But the the position statement also said that hospital departments must be adequately staffed and that the public and policy makers needed to value "the unique function of the nurse and nursing".

The academy will also publish an "older person's nursing checklist" so that the public can challenge inadequate or poor care.

"It's all about valuing people - do as you would be done by," said Ms Morgan.

"Treat every single person that you come across as an individual with dignity and compassion as you would your mother or father, sister or brother... that should be your default position.

"It's also about attitude and the way you address people as Mr and Mrs, sir or madam, not love, sweetie, chicken or darling.

"There are problems. You pick up any paper and you will see problems are there. And what we're doing is offering up suggestions on how we deal with this."

The Welsh government has said it recognised that more work needed to be done to ensure that all patients receive high quality care.

The University Hospital of Wales said last week that it acknowledged the seriousness of the concerns raised by Mrs Clwyd and it would not tolerate poor care.

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