"Decant = burden ??"

About: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary / General Internal Medicine

(as a relative),

My mum was recently been transferred from one ward to another and the difference between the staff is staggering. They make being officious into an art form! There's been a few instances, but my favourite so far is when I arrived 25 minutes early for visiting (I wasn’t told the new ward had different visiting times). After taking a chair and speaking for a few minutes I was approached by a staff nurse and asked to leave as it wasn’t visiting time yet. I apologised and said I assumed that it would be the same as the old ward, but I’d remember for next time. She asked me to leave. Since I had a toddler with me, I didn’t fancy going all the way back down stairs. I offered to sit in the day room - they don’t have a day room. I refused and asked to speak to the charge nurse. I was taken to her office and spoken to about the nature of the patients on this ward, they’re needs etc and they don’t make special dispensations for “decants”. Describing a patient as a “decant” (esp. to a relative) “is not a dignified or respectful way to refer to patients” - quote taken from page 7 of the Healthcare Improvement Scotland Unannounced Inspection Report (Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Woodend Hospital, NHS Grampian): 6–10 October 2014. )

Patients (esp. elderly ones) often feel burdensome of healthcare staff - don’t make it worse by treating those moved into your wards (with perhaps differing needs than you are used to) differently to your “usual” patients - don’t call them decants.

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Response from Linda Oldroyd, Nurse Consultant Patient Safety and Experience, NHS Grampian

Dear HLJ

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to post your feedback. I totally agree with everything you say and apologise to you and your mum on behalf of NHS Grampian.

Having different visiting times in different wards is very confusing for relatives, especially if staff do not make you aware of this. We are working towards more person-centred visiting and it is one of those things that I personally feel that we should just do. However some wards do have concerns about more open visiting and so we are moving more slowly on this than I would like. However, we are moving in the right direction.

I also agree about the use of the word "decant." This is colloquialism which is obsolete and should never be used. The correct term is “boarded patient”. We are currently writing a new policy on “boarding” and will certainly take your comments into account.

I will make sure that the senior nursing staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary are made aware of your feedback.

If you would care to contact me personally to share more details of your experience as a visitor I would be pleased to meet you or have a telephone conversation with you. We are always ready to learn from the experiences of patients, carers and visitors.

I can be contacted on 01224 558449 or by email at loldroyd@nhs.net

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Update posted by HLJ (a relative)

Thank you for your prompt reply. I'm writing this from ARI now as I am up visiting her. Unfortunately she's not here she was moved to woodend this morning. A telephone call (they have all my numbers) wouldn't have gone amiss before I drove to ARI, parked (which is a feat in and of itself!) and walked up to the pink zone. I understand the nurses/receptionists are busy/under staffed though:-(

Response from Linda Oldroyd, Nurse Consultant Patient Safety and Experience, NHS Grampian

Dear HLJ

Again, apologies are in order. Relatives should be infomred as a matter of course when a paieint is moved either within a hospital or to another care setting. We are testing a "discharge pause" at the moment. This is a checklist to ensure that all the necessary things have been done to ensure a safe and person-centred dishcarge or transfer. I will check if informing family of a move is included in the checklist.

I hope that you find visiting at Woodend is less stressful in terms of parking and visiting times.

I am based at Summerfield House, just down the road from Woodend so with regard to my previous offer of a chat I could easlily pop up to Woodend to see you. The nursing team at ARI are keen to hear more about your experiences as a visitor. I would of course maintain your confidentiality if that is what you would like.

Kindest regards to you and your mum,

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Response from Linda Oldroyd, Nurse Consultant Patient Safety and Experience, NHS Grampian

Hello again

Just wanted to give you a wee update on the thoughts of our Interim Associate Director for Acute services. She let me know that she is really quite concerned about this post as it shows a complete lack of compassion for the patient and the relative. She feels that we should be urging staff to see all patients as special but boarded patients are even more special and that staff should be aware of the differences in their services and ensure these are well communicated and documented. She would be happy to meet with you.

Also I have established that making sure relatives know that a patient is being moved is on our discharge pause. We need to spread this work across the hospital to ensure that what happened to you does not happen again.

Kind regards

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