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Health system still failing the elderly

Service still failing to reach government-set standards, say public service watchdogs

England's health system and public services are still failing to consider the special needs of older people, according to a joint report carried out by three public sector watchdogs - the Audit Commission, Healthcare Commission and Commission for Social Care Inspection.

Called Living Well in Later Life, the report found that out of ten communities across England whose public services were examined, none had reached all of the government's major targets ­- set out in its 10-year plan to improve services for older people.

It also suggests that ìdeep-rooted cultural attitudes to ageingî in local public services are hampering wider government plans to improve health, social care and local council services for older people.

A lack of communication between service providers, and little consultation with elderly patients, has increased the severity and prevalence of the problems.

David Behan, chief inspector of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, said: ìOlder people are not involved in the design of services and, consequently, services are not tailored to their needs.î

Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, commented: ìOlder people are the biggest users of healthcareÖ yet they continue to be a low priority in both the planning and development of our health service.î

Despite acknowledging some achievements, the report concluded that progress has been slow, with a need to minimise the risk of elderly patients suffering from ìabuse and neglect by the people who are supposed to be caring for themî.

The most positive aspect of the findings is that older people are getting both better post-stroke treatment and more help to continue living in their own homes.

30th September 2008

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