"My mother's care at Rotherham hospital"

About: Rotherham Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as a relative),

My 90 year old mother has just spent 13 weeks in RGH following a fall resulting in a hip replacement. She was treated by staff who were extremely kind and caring but also by staff who were unkind both verbally and in the handling of her. She experienced life on 3 different wards and on every ward it was the same - shortage of nurses - no one had enough time to spend with the patients. Indeed, on mother's last night in hospital the ward sister remarked that without the help of relatives that night they would not have finished the work in time for the night staff to come on because they had been so short staffed. During mother's stay she was only once asked if she would like a bath and this she refused because it was not very long after her operation and she was frightened of falling again. She had her hair washed only once in all the 13 weeks but it was not combed out or set properly. When asked on other wards she was on the nurses said they did not have the time to spend washing hair - they were far too busy. There are no hairdressers at the hospital and I have to ask why because this service used to be available. I feel that there should be designated staff for the bathing and hair washing and also hairdressers visiting or else a hairdressing salon where patients can attend. After all, cleanliness and taking pride in appearance is part of the patient's recovery and well being.

Because of the lack of nursing staff, everything seems rushed, you have to search to find staff to ask about your relatives progress/concerns. Patients are waiting ages for someone to attend when they press the buzzer and then when taken to the toilet they can be left quite a while for the nurses to return because they have had to go and see to someone else whilst the other patient is on the toilet.

My mother had a fall whilst in hospital and had she not told me I would never have found out about it because the nursing staff certainly did not bother to speak to me about this. Even though my mother told the nurse she could not walk and felt she was going to fall she still kept encouraging her to keep walking and then when they arrived at the toilet a cleaner was just coming out having mopped the floor. Consequently, my mother was walked onto a wet floor and fell down, banging her knee and all her left breast and rib cage on the zimmer frame she was using. This resulted in a badly bruised knee and her breast and left side of her chest was black and blue. This was only found out 5 days later when mother was sat washing herself and lifted up her vest to wash around her breasts. So in 5 days no one had bothered to wash her front nor check for any damage from the fall. We instigated an investigation and mother was sent for an x-ray and statements taken from the staff. The nurse who had taken mother to the toilet was a senior member of staff who had not even bothered to fill in an incident form, let alone tell anyone about the fall!!! Also some members of staff had roughly handled mother and were verbally unpleasant. I will say that these incidents were taken seriously and handled in a professional manner by the ward manager and the senior staff could not apologise enough. My mother has spent quite a bit of time in hospital over the past few years and each time I come away feeling very discontent with the service given and that the care of the elderly is sadly lacking and do wonder if all patients are treated in the same way as the elderly. I strongly feel that recruitment of more nursing staff is of paramount importance and would result in staff having more time to spend with patients thus aiding the efficiency of the wards and safety of the patients. Money should be spent on patient care not on such aspirations as aiming to have the best reception area in the country.

On a positive note, I must congratulate RGH on having a Central Treatment Room where patients go for their wounds to be dressed. No wounds are allowed to be treated on the wards. This certainly cuts down the cross contamination and the spread of infections. Mother had both her legs damaged whilst in hospital and these wounds were dressed by CTR staff in hygienic conditions thus preventing any infection. Indeed, we had to see the plastic surgeon at Northern General who felt surgery was not necessary because of the excellent treatment mother was receiving at CTR. Also, congratulations for the "Protected Mealtimes". I think this is an excellent idea to enable staff to assist patients who are unable to feed themselves.

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Response from Brigid Reid, Deputy Chief Nurse, Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust

I was very concerned to hear about your varying experiences at Rotherham hospital; particularly the negative ones for which I must apologise to both you and your mother. From sharing your posting with the Matrons here I am now aware of which ward some of these occurred on and know that action has been taken in relation to * Staff attitude and approach * Reporting and communication of incidents (the Matron assures me that although we failed to inform you about the incident your mother’s pronounced bruising (relating to other medication she was on) was monitored from the outset. I am pleased that once these concerns had been raised with the Sister and Matron that you felt they handled in a professional and serious manner. If there is anything further I can add to how your direct concerns were handled then please do contact me directly. Unfortunately we know that things like this do still happen in our hospital and we’re trying really hard to tackle them in a series of different ways that all interlink: * Our Chief Nurse and I work on one of wards/departments as a registered nurse once per month and create opportunities to call onto areas on an ad hoc basis (often out of hours). I have also developed a system of formally reviewing practice involving observation periods, documentation reviews and asking patients, relatives and staff their views (two such reviews have already proactively occurred). The aim of the review is to identify and praise what works well, and find out what needs to improve. We then work out an action plan to help staff really make the changes and hold them to account to do so. * We have just commenced a programme for Sisters/Charge Nurse who manage wards, to help them get better at developing staff on the wards and become more skilled at holding them to account when things do go wrong. * As a hospital we aim to ensure that every in-patient’s hygiene needs and preferences are assessed and met on a daily basis as we all change by the day and may need different things today from yesterday. * Caring for people takes time so we regularly review workload and capacity of wards. This means looking at how work is organised so we can free up nurses to be by the bedside is just as important here as whether or not there are sufficient nurses. Our Chief Nurse Jackie Bird has recently completed a hospital wide Nursing Review, to clarify where additional staff may be needed. * It helps patients to know when the Matron or Sisters/Charge Nurses are around going to around during visiting hours so that family and friends know when they can ask questions or express concerns. These times should be advertised on the wards. * You are right about the importance of preventing older people from falling and our Falls Prevention work now includes accompanying, and remaining with, patients (who have been identified as being at high risk of falling) when they use the toilet. We try to do this in ways that balance privacy with safety. * A programme of work, similar to the event run by Patient Opinion, in which we tackle how important our attitudes and behaviors are, will be rolled out next year across the organization. Caring is our core business and all of the work I have talked about is fundamental to helping us provide better care throughout the hospital. Our aim is to completely get rid of poor care and to do this in a systematic way across the organisation. I am personally really committed to making this happen. So if anyone has concerns then please do tell us about them as near to the time as possible. Ideally raise concerns directly with the relevant ward sister/charge nurse or matron; otherwise contact our Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS) or Patient Services team, both of which I manage. Yours sincerely,
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