NHS managers need to be more available outside normal office hours in order to improve the care of older patients, a new report has recommended.

Delivering Dignity, the report from the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People, also recommends senior NHS managers invest time in getting an impression of how care is delivered in their organisations.

It claims staff seeing non-executive directors and managers talking to patients and their families will “understand that the organisation sees dignified care as a priority”.

The report, which was compiled after receiving submissions from around 230 organisations and individuals, found evidence staff on duty outside regular hours did not always have the skills, experience or support to make urgent decisions. It calls on managers to ensure that “appropriately senior and suitably qualified staff are available on all shifts”.

It recommends sisters and charge nurses are given “significant responsibility” for staffing and budgets and all staff involved in caring be given time to reflect on their role.  

The commission was set up by the NHS Confederation, Age UK and the Local Government Association to complement the public inquiry into the system failings surrounding Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust by looking into the provision of care to older people in hospitals, the community and care homes.

Commission joint chair Keith Pearson said there was a need for a “major cultural shift” in the way the NHS thinks about dignity to ensure “care is person-centred and not task-focused”.

He added: “This will require empowered leadership on the ward and in the care home, as well as a lead from boards and senior managers. It will also mean changing the way we recruit and develop staff working with older people.”

The report also recommended hospitals and care homes collect “extensive” feedback from older people, their families and carers and the Department of Health work on producing a patient record, which is owned by the individual and give’s details about their life story, family and likes and dislikes.

It suggests commissioners consider requiring independent advocates for older patients in service specifications, who would then give feedback to both the commissioners and the providers.