Hilary's story

I made sure my mum could keep in touch

“My mum, who is in her 90s, was on a geriatric ward where there were no patient phones. In the normal course of things, when she was at home and healthy, I phone her every day. So I rushed out and bought her a mobile with nice big keys and got it back to the ward only to be told that there was no signal.

"It bothered mum a lot that we couldn’t speak unless I was there at the hospital. We had been in a routine that at 7 o’clock I’d phone her every day but then suddenly in hospital this couldn’t happen. So this made things different and disorientating. At least if you have a phone it keeps you grounded, it reassures you that there’s a world out there.

"To visit my mother was a six hour round trip for me, travelling over 220 miles, and by the end of the first week, despite visiting, I was very frustrated at not being able to talk to her to see how she was or even to tell her when I was coming.

"Then I got a reply from the hospital"

"So I went on the Patient Opinion website and told my story. In fact I had very little expectation that anything would come of it and then I got a message from the hospital saying ‘I have visited your mother’s ward and we want to put it right.’

The next day the person arranged to meet me at reception so I could try out the new phone line myself. It was a handset with a phone line just for patients on that ward. I went out into the courtyard and rang the handset from my mobile and he passed the phone to my mum.

"I think my story is rather dull – it’s about phones! It’s not exactly life-threatening stuff but I think it made a difference - not just to my mother but to other visitors and other patients in that ward who were similarly frustrated. In their own way phones really are lifelines. They are a way for the real world to come into the hospital world – to make sure you don’t feel like you’re being parked in a lay-by and forgotten. Anything that makes you feel more normal when you’re in an abnormal place has to be a good thing.”

Read Hilary's original Patient Opinion story, and the response from East Surrey hospital.

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