The issue was included in a list of topics proposed for consideration by the county council’s select committees in the coming year.
A report presented at a meeting of the policy and resources select committee said that following a report by the NHS Ombudsman, called Care and Compassion, the proposal was to consider the quality of care for older people provided in hospitals and, possibly, other settings such as care homes.
Considerations would include nutrition and hydration, end-of-life care, and dignity and respect.
County council leader councillor Louise Goldsmith said work on this had already started.
“This is a very serious issue for this county, with its demographics,”
she added. “Morally, we have got to not put our heads in the sand, but to look at how we manage this.”
A first meeting on this had just taken place.
“A very open dialogue is needed,” she told the select committee.
A separate topic also proposed for consideration in the report was “preparing for an ageing population” – to explore the wider impact of the ageing population on county council services.
Councillor Christine Field, chairman of the West Sussex health overview and scrutiny committee, said care of the elderly and preparing for an ageing population were two different things.
“Care of the elderly is how we are dealing with elderly people now – which is probably what we need to do before we start organising change for the future,” she asserted. Other topics proposed for future scrutiny at County Hall include:-
-services for 16 to 25-year-old offenders at risk of reoffending;
- community safety, domestic violence and anti-social behaviour;
- the impact of changes in youth services on community safety;
- the impact of youth service budget cuts;
- NHS restructuring and transition.