SFEI was founded in 2023 as a result of my own experience accompanying a frail, elderly family member to an A&E department before their admittance to the hospital.
After a long wait, we were taken to A&E by ambulance and then spent many more hours there before my relative was admitted to a respiratory ward that was ill-equipped to care for someone at their stage of frailty in what turned out to be the last days of their life.
When alone on the ward, my relative's requests for assistance with basic hygiene, personal care and nutrition were ignored. Instead, they were treated as an inconvenience and with visible frustration by the ward staff.
Before I was able to step in to prevent it, I witnessed verbal bullying and the physical manhandling of my relative because of their inability to stand without help. The staff's annoyance at having to care for someone so frail and in need of extra attention due to their advanced illness and age was palpable. They not only experienced neglect but were treated as a burden.
Basic frailty assessments as documented in the NHS Frailty Toolkit were not actively undertaken and, although safeguarding procedures such as swallow function tests were ordered, these were not executed.
Unfortunately, anecdotally this experience seems to be far from an isolated case. SFEI wants to change this.
There comes a time when we are no longer able to give our frail, elderly loved ones the level of medical support they need and it is at this point, when they are at their most sick and vulnerable, that we hand them over to NHS medical professionals as an inpatient, with the expectation that they will be cared for and safe.
Often frightened, confused and overwhelmed at finding themselves on a hospital ward, the least they should expect is respect, kindness, and assistance with basic care from those charged with treating them.
At a time like this, no family member should have to battle with those giving care to ensure that their relative’s requests for help are heard or that the prescribed medication and treatment are given.
No one at the end of visiting hours should leave their loved one, who is so vulnerable, on a ward fearing that they may be neglected of treatment overnight but feel powerless to prevent this.
After witnessing such a lack of basic humanity, the failure of professional care and the lack of respect for my loved one in their last days, I cannot stand by and see other families experience the same scenario.
SFEI was founded to engage with the Department of Health and the NHS to urge both to take action to improve the safety and ward experiences for all frail elderly inpatients
SFEI PROTECTING THE VULNERABLE
To address the inequity within the NHS in terms of the provision of healthcare for frail, elderly inpatients who do not live in large cities by ensuring that all NHS hospitals have appropriately equipped and staffed Acute Frailty Units/Wards available for their care and treatment upon admittance.
To campaign for the creation of the role of ‘frailty guardian’ who will advocate for and safeguard frail, elderly inpatients ensuring that their needs and voices are heard.
To achieve these aims, SFEI will engage with the Department of Health and the NHS in collaborative conversations to identify immediate actions that can be taken to improve the safety and care of frail elderly inpatients.
We have a very simple vision: that every frail, elderly inpatient is treated with equity, dignity, kindness, compassion, and respect.
We will strategically align ourselves with other safeguarding organisations with the intention of highlighting inequity and safeguarding risks within the NHS.
We will engage with the Department of Health and the NHS to participate in discussions to improve NHS procedures and policies to ensure the safe treatment of frail, elderly inpatients.