"My elderly mother had two stays ..."

About: Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital

(as a relative),

What I liked

My elderly mother had two stays at this hospital following emergency arrivals. On neither occasion were I or other family members enamoured by the quality of care or communication. My mother's diginity was not protected. She was forced to wet the bed when staff did not respond to night bells - this was confirmed by other patients who said "no one ever answered" and the bed sides prevented her from getting herself to the toilet.

When I arrived to discharge her, having travelled 300 miles to do so, she was wearing a hospital robe that was not secured, had no underwear on and there were no clean clothes to dress her in.

My mother had become so distressed with her situation she had secreted scissors to try to cut her wrists. Although this was immediately apparent to me, staff only told me this by telephone after discharge.

We waited ages for hospital transport as relatives were expected to provide this, as well as doing the patient's laundry.

As I waited for the transport I overheard calls from patients' relatives to the nurse station. Relatives were told that x nurse would ring back. x nurse then said they wouldn't - to the message bearer - and relatives were obliged to ring again.

The TV, radio and telephone system were incomprehensible to an elderly person and because my mother was moved from various beds, relatives telephoning in found it difficult to call in. Unless a care worker or nurse was near the telephone when I rang it, my mother did not know how to answer it. When I asked for help in learning how to use the system, a staff member said they didn't know themselves.

The ward was littered with notices covering NOT bringing in flowers NOT visiting outside hours etc. The whole environment was depressing.

One staff nurse was helpful, found some 'spare clothes' my mother could wear to leave, tried her best to get the hospital transport arranged.

I was relieved to get my mother out of that hospital.

What could be improved

Putting the the patient's needs first - not just medical considerations but their overall well-being.

Staff training - staff being required to consider whether they would like to be placed in such an undignified situation themselves, how they would feel, and what they would expect instead.

Effective ways for relatives who cannot visit in person to be able to communicate with a patient and gain from qualified staff an understanding of a patient's medical situation and the implications of it.

An effective net of communication between consultant/specialist and family/patient. I was presented with conflicting and confusing information and was expected to be able to turn up at short notice from a long distance to discharge my mother when the surgeon had told me the day before that surgery was expected.

I had to precipitate the communications - people rarely rang back when they said they would.

Anything else?

Patients families to receive on admission - or be given a web link to read on line - a clear statement of what the hospital does in terms of patient wellbeing and what the relatives have to do/provide.

A quality standard for communications that explains the lines of communication - how news and medical information will be conveyed and who monitors the communications strategy.

Story from NHS Choices

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››