"Treatment of Elderly Parent"

About: Princess Alexandra Hospital (Harlow)

My dad, a 94 much loved father was brought into Harlow Hospital with an inability to wee and dehydration. My dad before coming into Harlow Hospital (has been diagnosed with dementia) was able to walk unsteadily, able to talk, sometimes a bit confused, had really lovely manners, was always appreciative, and so loved his food. Harlow hospital sent back my dad after approximately 12 days ‘care’, someone who can no longer walk, barely communicates, cries all the time; is unable to eat and has to be ‘spoon feed’ with special liquid and now has awful bed sores on his backside and the heels of his feet. We visited my dad in Harlow regularly. After a few days we found dad in a foetal position, desperately thirsty, crying to go home. We were asked by Harlow if we could go in at meal times to feed him as it was proving difficult; Harlow hadn’t even shaved dad despite promising they would; their diagnosis changed daily and it was obvious that dad wasn’t receiving care suitable to his needs. Harlow Hospital finally agreed to the family to ‘release’ dad. I received a phone call from Harlow Hospital. The person said to me I have some good news I have some bad news, what do ‘you’ want to hear first. I asked for the bad news, which I was told that the physiotherapist at Harlow Hospital had assessed dad and it is their belief that dad will never be able to stand or walk again and also that he will no longer even be able to sit up. Further that dads dementia had progressed significantly during his time in Harlow Hospital ‘in their care’ and your dad now, is no longer able to understand or even follow simple instructions. I replied how could this be, my dad hadn’t had these problems when he was admitted. Their response with a laugh these things happen when the elderly are in hospital. The good news was that they were going to let dad go. I am genuinely sorry. Like everyone else I see the news about how overworked, inundated hospitals are. I am sure you are all over-worked, under funded and under appreciated. But I’m sorry but that doesn’t excuse your treatment of my dad. He came to you with a small problem and your lack of care has resulted in reducing him to a wreck of a man who may not recover. News reports show that hospital are full of elderly individuals, but if this is their treatment, is it any wonder why they cant go home or be sent back to the community. I see you don’t do minus stars. If you did I would give you Harlow Hospital minus 94 stars one for each year of my dads age.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Princess Alexandra Hospital

Dear Concerned Daughter, It is heart rending to read your story and I am so sorry for the experience you have had. No-one should have to experience what you have described either for you as a family member or for your father. Please do contact us as soon as you can to speak to someone, so the team here can look at the problems you've described and try and understand what we could have done differently. I know how passionate our nurses, doctors and other health professionals are about providing excellent care and so I know that they too will want to do anything and everything they can to put this right and reading your account, we really need to address the issues you've described as soon as possible. The number here for the Patient Experience Team is 01279 82 70 84 or you can email pals@pah.nhs.uk and we will respond. We are ready whenever you are, to work through this and take your call.

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