"Concerned by elderly care"

About: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary / Emergency Medicine Aberdeen Royal Infirmary / General Internal Medicine

(as a relative),

Can I start by saying I work in a hospitaI, and this is part of the basis of my upset, because I know that no one I work with would ever do this, and that's what makes it all the worse?

My mum was admitted last night after a bit of an emergency at home. She takes seizures, in and out of hospital relatively frequently (twice a year or so maybe, sometimes more). She was taken by ambulance to A&E. I cannot fault the staff of A&E at all. From consultant to porter everyone was so very kind to me. The consultant took time to talk with me and appeared to genuinely care. It's so rare to see a consultant like that and I was relieved to have the chance to discuss my mum's care with them.

An agreement was made that my mum would be transferred to the short stay medical unit, ward 103, for observation. I left the hospital at 11pm, hoping that my mum would be alright, trusting the A&E staff had it in hand.

My mum phoned me at 1am, distressed as she was incontinent of urine due to her seizures, and was not offered a chance to wash. She had not been given anything to eat or drink (it would not have taken moments to get her tea and toast? ). She was left in a single room with the door closed, had been given a lot of sedation and felt frightened. I asked her to call the buzzer but again, she was not able to get any help for some reason. I tried to call the ward, but had no answer. Tried switchboard staff, and they couldn't get through either.

Anyway - morning came, and I was phoned at 11. 30 to be told my mum was discharged, could I come to get her? I explained I could not get near the hospital until at least 2pm, and was asked if I could try to come sooner. I said I couldn't and I was sure that would be OK. I don't drive, I was meant to be working a nightshift last night and I'd only had 2 hours sleep in total. I wasn't able to rush into Aberdeen at all. I genuinely thought that would be alright!

Imagine my horror then when I did make my way to the ward, for 2. 30pm and was told my mum was in a waiting room. I found my mum in a 10ft by 6ft room, sleeping across three chairs, wearing nothing but a hospital gown and underwear. She had no privacy, no access to the buzzers, no water, nobody could see her or check her. For someone who has seizures, was sedated last night, this is absolutely disgusting. My mum said a student nurse told her she had to vacate her bed as it was needed for someone else. I'm upset to think that she was stripped of her dignity and comfort in such a manner, all for a bed.

To make matters worse, no one came to explain the circumstances to me. The attitude of the nursing staff in general left a lot to be desired. My mum remembers a senior member of staff being rather concerned at some stage, as well as someone else, but I don't know what steps were made to resolve the situation - and why did someone not make an effort to discuss this with me, considering the staff knew I was on the ward?

I'm very upset. My mum's illnesses are partly of a psychological nature - as well as very physical - and there's a part of me that's concerned that this had something to do with it. I very definitely hope not.

I reiterate that some aspects of my mum's care was wonderful, but this was very distressing for us and I wished to tell you, as I don't want this happening to anyone else!

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Responses

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

Dear relative

As a nurse myself, with responsibility for Patient Opinion, on behalf of NHS Grampian, I share your distress and concern with this situation. No one should have to wait in an area such as this where they cannot be properly looked after and certainly not when improperly clothed for a public area.

I want to thank you for bringing this to the attention of NHS Grampian and assure you that senior staff will investigate what happened at our earliest possible opportunity. I mean by this that someone will look into this situation tomorrow.

It is also unacceptable that you were unable to contact the ward when you heard from your mum that she was in need of care. Communication has been poor all around.

We are grateful for the positive feedback about aspects of your mum's care but we aim to get it right for every patient everytime and we apologise that this was not the case for your mum.

If you would like to speak with me about what happened please call on 01343567900 or email me at loldroyd@nhs.net

In any case we will post again on Patient Opinion when we have investigated what happened here to lead to this situation.

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

Dear relative

I have, today, spoken with senior managers at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and they have assured me that they are looking into what happened with your mum and will have completed their investigation by Wednesday. I will post again when I have more information.

Kind regards,

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

Dear relative

I have been asked by the senior managers at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to let you know that there will a reponse ready by tomorrow (Thursday 24th September).

Kind regards

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Update posted by 15Sept15 (a relative)

Thanks so much, glad to get a quick response and looking forward to hearing from you. This is a relief , thanks for being so helpful. Sorry I have not been in touch sooner, been finishing a stint of night shift.

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

Dear relative

Apologies for the delay. A thorough investigation has been carried out and we will be in a position to post a reponse soon. I am sorry it could not be today as promised.

Kind regards

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Response from Linda Oldroyd, Nurse Consultant Patient Safety and Experience, NHS Grampian We are preparing to make a change

Dear relative

I have been ask to respond on behalf of the service based on the investigation they undertook. I apologise again for the delay.

The staff recognised that the waiting are in ward 103 is not the best environment for a patient to wait to be discharged. Staff tried to maintain your mum's dignity as best they could under the circumstances and checked on her frequently while she waited for you. There is no nurse call buzzer in the waiting area but there is an emergency buzzer.

Staff apologise that neither the call buzzer nor the phone was answered during the night. There is no excuse and no explanation for this.

Your post has prompted a number of recommendations which I highlight below:

1. Explore the development of a properly furnished discharge lounge within the ward.

2. Ensure a system is in place to divert telephones to a portable device if not answered within a specific time.

3. Remind staff to record all contacts with significant others in the nursing documentation.

I hope that you feel that your concerns have been recognised and acknowledged by the staff and that change will happen as a result of your post.

Staff feel they did the best they could in less than perfect circumstances but they acknowledge the shortfalls in the standards of care your mum experienced and apologise unreservedly for this.

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