BOSSES at Borders General Hospital have been issued with an action plan to improve elderly care within the wards.

Experts from Healthcare Improvement Scotland descended on the region's main hospital during November.

Although patients presented a positive picture of life in Wards 4, 9 and 12, as well as the Stroke Unit, the inspectors found a catalogue of failings when it came to documentation and procedures.

And they have now presented managers with a nine-point list of improvements.

As well as more thorough screening and initial assessments, and more person-centred care planning, managers are being instructed to make sure there is better nutritional monitoring and improved falls prevention.

Ian Smith, head of quality of care with Healthcare Improvement Scotland told us: “During our inspection we saw that patients were treated with dignity and respect.

“However, to improve care, NHS Borders must ensure that older people who are admitted to hospital are accurately assessed within the national standard recommended timescales.”

Healthcare Improvement Scotland carried out the inspection over three days at the start of November.

Inspectors spoke with 12 patients, and received completed questionnaires from 21 patients and nine family members.

They also checked the health records of 16 patients.

While problems were found within areas of record keeping and procedures, they witnessed patients being treated with 'compassion, dignity and respect'.

The report published this week also highlighted that 'mealtimes were organised and well co-ordinated', there was a 'good provision of snacks available for patients', the rapid assessment and discharge teams operated affectively, and that all screenings were completed within the required timeframe.

NHS Borders has welcomed the report.

Medical director Cliff Sharp said: “This is a good report that highlights a number of areas of good practice such as our rapid assessment and discharge team which improves patient flow, so that our patients go to more homely, appropriate settings in a timelier manner.

“Well-coordinated patient mealtimes were outlined as another example of good practice.

"One aspect of mealtimes is the new Volunteer Mealtime Coordinator role which helps provide extra support to patients. In some areas, such as our elderly wards, mealtimes also provide valuable social opportunities which makes hospital stays more interesting.

“Another area of good practice in the report was our work around pressure ulcers with all patients having a risk assessment completed within the required timeframe."

NHS Borders have until the end of April to make the required improvements identified in the nine-point plan.

Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Acute Services, Nicky Berry believes progress is being made.

She said: "Over the past year we have worked hard to drive forward our Back to Basics improvement programme, and Inspectors saw evidence that this has led to improvements, for example complaints due to communication issues within wards have reduced.

“However inspections reflect a specific point in time so whilst we have made progress since June 2017 we recognise that there is more work to be done with our documentation.

"For instance, we need to focus on more accurate documentation done at the right time.

“To address this we have developed an action plan focusing on reviewing documentation and practices; trialling spot checks of documentation and further embedding our improvement work to reduce variation.

“Our staff do really good work every day caring for our patients in a friendly, approachable and courteous way whilst ensuring their dignity, respect and privacy.

"We are delighted Inspectors observed this and heard positive feedback from patients about the quality of care they receive at Borders General Hospital.

“We are a learning organisation who welcomes the opportunity to continue to develop our services to make patient care the best it can be.”