"Getting my mum home from hospital"

About: Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France / Accident & Emergency

(as a relative),

My mother fell in her care home this morning and, after the staff phoned NHS 24, she was taken by ambulance to REI. A very nice male doctor phoned me to discuss the matter and, as there seemed to be nothing broken, we agreed the best place for her was back to the care home.

When I asked how she would get home, he said not to worry, they would organise that. I was surprised that there might be Patient Transport available.

My fears were founded when 10 minutes later I got a call to say the transport might take 9 hours or longer and what did I want to do? I really hate being talked AT by people who simply keep repeating the same information. I am not stupid or deaf.

By far the worst aspect was the extremely high handed attitude of the senior nurse who took it upon herself to call the care home and make sure they understood that it was their responsibility to get mum safely home - in fact they should have sent a member of staff with her to start with.

How dare she. I was already in touch with family to see if someone could help as I live an hour and a half away. Before I heard back from any of them, a lovely staff member from the home phoned me to say could she use mum's "kitty" money to go and get her in a taxi? Of course. Then I realised that her shift had finished and she was going in her own time. In the end a staff member just coming on shift went in the taxi and the other one stayed on until mum was returned to the home.

Whether or not it was the care home's responsibility to have sent a member of staff with my mother is something I will look into. However - staffing levels in all homes are such that that might put the residents left behind at risk. No home has spare staff to cope with that.

In my opinion the senior nurse behaved in a very high handed manner and I hadn't even had time to contact all other possibilities. This is just an example of someone abusing their position. She may well be right that the care home has a duty to send someone with a resident, but there are much better ways of dealing with overworked staff than having a go at them. I would have thought that someone working in an over-stretched department would be the first to have sympathy and not the first to judge.

Update:

I contacted the Care Inspectorate and confirmed that there is NO obligation to provide either an escort or transport home. Some homes may offer this in their Terms and Conditions but it will likely be charged as an extra.

I then contacted the staff member concerned at A&E at the Royal as I was concerned that she was acting under a misapprehension and I didn't want other homes to be on the receiving end of such demands. There was no misunderstanding. She knew perfectly well that it was not an obligation on the part of the home but indicated that it was "best practice". I couldn't agree more - in an unrealistic but ideal world! We had a very happy and productive conversation and I am very grateful for the care mum received at the hospital and the work of all the staff in our under funded, over worked and fragile NHS, and she is right that it is sad that an 84 year old woman with dementia arrives at A&E with just a letter and no-one who knows her to make sure she is ok.

They do need to bear in mind though that putting pressure on another service to provide something they can't does not solve the problem. If we, as a society, cannot fund Patient Transport to provide the level of service we expect then there is no use passing the buck. If this happens again I will simply go to the hospital myself and then there won't be a problem! Simples :)

I do feel obligated to reimburse the staff member from the home for her time and top up the kitty but it's a small price to pay for a happy ending.

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Responses

Response from Customer Relations and Feedback Team, NHS Lothian

Dear bordersgirl57

Thank you for taking the time to post on Patient Opinion as all feedback is important to NHS Lothian. I am pleased you had the opportunity to discuss this with the nurse concerned and I will bring your post to the attention of senior staff in Accident and Emergency at RIE.