Older patients ‘disrespected’ in hospital move

PLANS to move older people out of hospital to free up acute beds have been described as “disrespectful” by a Limerick representative for older people.

Chair of the Limerick Older Persons Executive of Age Friendly Limerick, Elizabeth Stanley, says that the new proposal from the HSE will “not fly” unless the people involved and the people responsible for their health buy into it.

Head of the HSE, Bernard Gloster, and chief clinical officer, Dr Colm Henry, have told hospitals they must move older patients on when they are well enough to leave rather than keeping them in acute hospital beds until a place becomes available in the nursing home of their choice.

In a memo to hospital management, the CEO said hospitals are “mandated” to put “available options” to any suitable Delayed Transfer Of Care (DTOC) patient who has been approved for the Fair Deal nursing home scheme or is assessed as suitable for post-acute transition care, while their final care plan in being completed.

Ms Stanley told the Limerick Post that her reaction to the plan is that it is “disrespectful. The geriatricians were not consulted about this and they haven’t bought into it.”

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“This is disrespectful of older people and disrespectful their care-givers who were not consulted,” the executive chair said.

“This proposal was delivered in a memo – would Bernard Gloster have delivered a memo if he intended to make huge changes in the way cardiac care is delivered and not consult the cardiologists? I don’t think so.”

“These are the people on whose shoulders this country was built.”

Remaining in hospital after treatment is not “a choice to be exercised” for patients whose discharge has been delayed, Mr Gloster and Dr Henry have told hospitals.

Their instructions, issued last week, aim to speed up the discharge of well patients from hospital to make room for sick ones languishing on trolleys in emergency departments.

On a typical day, the number of DTOCs exceeds 500, and may outnumber those waiting for admission.

Ms Stanley said she is “angry about this. This will not work if the people concerned and the geriatricians don’t buy into it and they won’t.”