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Older people’s experiences of dignity and support with eating during hospital stays: analytical framework, policies and outcomes

Vizard, Polly ORCID: 0000-0003-0740-377X and Burchardt, Tania ORCID: 0000-0003-4822-4954 (2023) Older people’s experiences of dignity and support with eating during hospital stays: analytical framework, policies and outcomes. Ageing and Society, 43 (7). 1661 - 1695. ISSN 0144-686X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0144686X21000568


There is growing recognition of the importance of dignity and support with eating as markers of high-quality and older-person-centred hospital services. We use data on these markers from the national Adult Inpatient Survey for England to build up statistical evidence on older people’s experiences. We find that poor and inconsistent experiences of being treated with dignity and respect, and of receiving support with eating, affect a substantial proportion of inpatients across the vast majority of acute hospital trusts. There has been remarkably little change over time, although small improvements provide some grounds for optimism relating to policy developments in the period following the Francis Inquiry. Amongst people over 65, the prevalence of inconsistent and poor experiences of dignity and support with eating was higher amongst the ‘oldest of the old’ (inpatients aged over 80), individuals who experience a long-standing limiting illness or disability, and women. The highest rates of prevalence were observed amongst disabled women over 80. Perceptions of inadequate nursing quantity and quality, and lack of choice of food, stand out from logistic regression analysis as having consistent, large associations with lack of support with eating. These factors provide potential policy levers since they are within the control of hospitals to a certain extent. In drawing lessons from our analysis for inspection, regulation and monitoring, we highlight the importance of inequalities analysis – including systematic disaggregation and separate identification of at risk sub-groups (e.g. older disabled women) – rather than relying on a ‘population average approach’.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2021 08:12
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 03:24

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