Monday, 30 September 2013

The NHS Journey Continues ...

I'm into my third week of dealing with the NHS and my mum's hospital stay - the good the bad and the ugly continue to exist and I face each new day wondering which challenges and problems will be thrown at us.

As I said in a previous post on the NHS, there are the shining stars within the caring profession - those who do everything with a smile on their face, go the extra mile and make every patient feel as though they have time for them.

I've seen nursing assistants feed patients with tenderness while painstakingly answering the same question over and over again but in a different way, I've seen physiotherapists taking on the role of nurse and calming an agitated patient with dementia purely with a hug and a few minutes of chat, and I've seen the Sister of the ward dealing with a problem swiftly and efficiently the minute it arose.

BUT ...

I've had a nurse with a heavy accent and speech impediment SCREAMING in my mum's bad ear, first thing in the morning, and telling her to put her hearing aids in.  My mum doesn't wear them and relies heavily on lip reading, a slow measured tone and face to face contact.  This was always going to go nowhere.

A nurse decided that, because my mum was of a certain age, she needed particular sanitary care which is totally unnecessary.  My mum was given no choice in the matter - she was stripped of her dignity and treated like all the other patients. She also asked, on seeing my mum walking gingerly, 'When exactly did you have this operation?' Erm ... perhaps try reading your notes on handover and you'd have seen that there hasn't been an operation and the bone is still healing.

A brain scan was booked for my mum and when I asked why (so that I could explain it to her) the nurse told me that she didn't know and it might be for the wrong patient!  When I asked her to find out, she huffed and puffed and didn't bother to do as I asked.  When I eventually managed to speak to the doctor, I was told so many things that didn't ring true that I eventually had to question that it was actually mum she was talking about.  Failed dementia test?  Had a fall in a physio session?  I'd been there for all of those things and been told that she'd passed with flying colours.  Surprise, surprise  ... within the hour I received an apology as the doctor (I use this term very loosely) had mixed my mother up with one of the ten patients she'd just taken on!  Unacceptable and so frightening - imagine if that information had been given to a patient with no next of kin or no one to discuss it with.

I've had a nurse decide to totally ignore my request for the toilet aid to be put in place in the loo.  She moved pretty quickly, with a tut, when I told her that I hoped that there wouldn't be any accidents.

My mum had a broken bed on the first night- it had a mind of its own and kept rising, falling and folding in the middle.  She was told that if she didn't stay there, the only option was to sleep on the loo all night.  It was eventually dealt with but, even if this passing comment was said as a joke to a hard of hearing patient who had been woken up with a fright in a strange place, it's not on.

My mum is of sound mind and yet she is in a ward where most have dementia. This is not good for her morale. She needs to be with other like-minded, elderly people to aid her recovery and her will to live - not sit in a silent ward surrounded by very sick people who she can't even chat to.  It's like waiting for death.

I've seen patients totally ignored - whether its been for toileting needs, comfort, a fall from bed or even pure hunger.  I've called nurses to help people back to bed and even fed them and delivered calming words just because no one else was around for them.

Physio is meant to be Monday to Friday - nothing happened today.  That's three days on the trot with no rehab.  Sparks may fly tomorrow.

I've witnessed nurses making patients more confused with silly untruths - telling them it's lunchtime at suppertime and vice versa and then laughing when they wonder why they are going to bed after lunch.  Not nice.

I've been told that there aren't enough pillows, wheelchairs or commodes purely because the nurse couldn't be bothered to move her bum and get one.  I now ask one of the 'goodies' and, surprise surprise, whatever I ask for materialises.

I guess you can tell I'm not happy. I don't want my mum there any longer than necessary and I'll be by her side for as much of it as I can or I'll steal her and take her home.

Watch this space ...

UPDATE!  A dementia patient kept the ward awake all night calling for a nurse.  The staff stood around talking and laughing, ignoring her.  Both my mum and another patient told me this this morning.  Today, the day staff were asking where she had got her new bruises from and they then took photographic evidence.  The lady was telling them that she shouldn't be treated that way and that at 84, she didn't want any more babies.  'I'd rather be dead than treated like this.'

Tonight the '12 year old doctor' visited her, after confusion and upset ALL day, and my sister heard the 'doctor' asking, 'Are you satisfied with your life?' and 'Can you manage your interests?'  Even we couldn't figure out what this meant!  This was to a lady who can't even feed herself.  Time to put the text books away, girlie, and focus on patients' real needs, speak her language and calm her down with whichever words she wants to hear.

On the plus side, I've made two new friends - nursing assistants who are helpful and smile.  That's all we want as patients and relatives.


  1. Are you keeping a running record of all this? I found things changed eventually when I threatened an official complaint with details, times, personnel - everything. I hated having to do it - I'd rather work with people than challenge them, and didn't want the 'good guys' to get caught in any fall-out, but was driven to it in the end. I didn't have to take it further (good thing, I'm not sure I had the energy) as the threat, in a carefully worded letter, did the trick. Hang in there!

  2. Agree with Jo, you must keep written records. This makes me so mad!!! How dare anybody treat any human being with a total lack of dignity. I don't care how bloody stressed they are. As a teacher I got so stressed I nearly topped myself (why I quit) yet I always put the kids' interests first. You are a star! This blog should be read by everyone who had an elderly family member. Thank God you are there to speak up for her. Suppose you lovely mum didn't have you? Doesn't bear thinking about!! xx

    1. Thanks ladies. I have made notes of names, dates and times (names where I can as, very often, they don't wear name badges - not on!)
      Last night the lady in the bed next to my mum kept everyone awake for hours, calling out for help. The night staff ignored her and carried on chatting. They eventually dealt with her but, this morning, the day staff were concerned about new bruises and they photographed them.
      I say, bring in cameras and tell the staff they're there - nothing to feel guilty about, nothing to hide.

    2. Let's not forget, that lady is someone's mum, sister,'s so scary THIS IS 2013!!!!!! This happens everywhere : ((