"Surely there has to be a better way? "

About: NHS Dorset CCG South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust / Emergency ambulance South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust / NHS 111

(as a carer),

I am in my early 70s and my husband who has dementia is in his early 80s. I am his carer. One night recently my husband started getting very aggressive and was chasing me and trying to hit me with his Zimmer frame. This was the first this has happened and I didn't know what to do about it. I thought of calling the police but I ended up calling an ambulance. I felt guilty about calling them as my husband wasn't ill and didn't need to go to hospital.

The staff who came were absolutely brilliant and kind. They stayed with me 2 hours. They called 111 for me and waited 2 hours for the out of hours doctor to arrive. They told me I had done the right thing calling them and not to feel bad about them spending so much time with me. If they had taken him anywhere, they would have had to wait until the doctor came and sedated my husband. They also told me the police would have refused to come out to help me and would have just told me to get out of the house.

When the doctor arrived, he was very helpful and did sedate my husband. We have also now found out that my husband had a urine infection which was what made him aggressive.

My situation cannot be unique and I just want to highlight this issue to help others learn from it. The ambulance staff told me my situation fell into a grey area in terms of responsibility. My husband wasn't in need of hospital treatment but equally this was an impossible situation to deal with on my own. Surely there has to be a better way to handle this? The out of hours doctor was great when he arrived but the 2 hour wait meant the ambulance staff were diverted from potentially saving other people's lives. Being a carer is a huge challenge and it's important support and solutions are available to people like me.

Thank you again to all the staff who helped me cope that night.

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Responses

Response from Laura Martin, Patient Engagement Administrator, Governance, South Western Ambulance Service

picture of Laura Martin

Dear CarerFiona

Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I hope that both you and your husband are recovering from this incident.

It is always rewarding to hear that our staff are continuing to provide excellent care to our patients, and their families, when they need us most.

I would like to be able to pass on your kind comments to all of the staff involved in your husbands care that evening. In order to do this I will need a little more information from you regarding the date of the incident and the address that we attended. Please could you contact me, at your convenience, on 01392 453831 or email laura.martin@swast.nhs.uk.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your experience of our services.

Kind regards

Laura

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