NMC new guidelines on the care of older people

An NMC spokeswoman said: "The guidance sets out what older people should expect when receiving care and therefore provides a framework to help nurses and midwives focus on the issues which matter most to them."

She said the guidance could be used to challenge poor standards of care and judge staff performance against.

They cover issues including respecting privacy and providing fundamental care like adequate fluids assistance with eating and personal hygiene when required.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "We completely support these guidelines. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect and that doesn't change when it comes to healthcare.

"For a long time we've been saying that nurses should ask patients how they would like to be addressed.

"The RCN Dignity campaign is about making sure that every nurse can take steps to make patients feel comfortable in potentially difficult circumstances. Addressing patients properly is one small step that staff can and have taken to improve care."

A spokeswoman from Age Concern said: "How hospital staff talk to older people is a small, but important part of considering their needs and wishes."

In a recent poll of more than 2,000, eight out of 10 nurses said they had left work distressed because they had been unable to treat patients with the dignity they deserved.