"Hospital are not that well equipped in dealing with dementia patients"

About: Hairmyres Hospital / Emergency department

(as a relative),

My dad is in a care home and he choked on food at lunchtime. If it hadn't been for the efforts of the staff he would not have survived. He stopped breathing and had no pulse for 2 minutes. The paramedics arrived in 4 minutes to take him to hospital.

When he arrived the carer was questioned as to why he was there as he was breathing normally by now and sitting up. His o2 sats had improved also but since he had stopped breathing the nurse at the home wanted him checked out. I arrived and could see my dad was in pain mainly at his side since he was rolled on the floor backwards and forwards to dislodge the food. It was not until an hour later when he saw the doctor that pain relief was mentioned.

The doctor asked me several questions about the incident. I explained that I didn't know as I wasn't present but notes had been left with me from the nurse at the home. The doctor didn't consult the notes and tried to ask my dad despite the fact I had told the doctor he had severe dementia. I felt the doctor didn't know how to deal with patients with this condition.

Despite being told he would get pain relief nothing happened for another 90 minutes when I went to the nurses station to ask where it was. They asked me what painkiller he could get and as I don't live with him I couldn't answer. Paracetamol was decided upon. It then took another half hour to decide which form of paracetamol should be given. It was decided a dissolving one.

A nurse came in with 2 paracetamol in a plastic cup to which they added water then went away. The nurse came back later and then decided it would be better with a straw. 4 hours had passed and by this time the ambulance had come to take him back to the home so my father received no pain relief despite being in severe pain all the time he was there.

In between he went for a chest x-Ray where they found a chest infection and antibiotics were prescribed. The doctor said they would give my dad the antibiotics with him to take back to the home. I hope the doctor meant that he would give them to the paramedic but I wasn't taking any chances and took the pills myself to the home.

There was also an incident when my dad needed the toilet and they weren't sure how they were going to manage this as he couldn't move or use a bottle but with reinforcements they got there.

During my dads stay in A and E I felt that the hospital are not that well equipped in dealing with dementia patients. I know my dad is difficult but he was in terrible pain and the carry on with the pain relief where it took nearly 3 hours before it arrived in a form he could take was excessive.

Thankfully my dad has recovered and all his food is now cut up or mashed and he is fed by a career.

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Response from Gwen MacIntyre, Senior Nurse, Surgical & Critical care, Hairmyres Hospital

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Dear Cookie crumble,

I was very disappointed to hear of your experience with your Father in our Emergency Department.

We feel it is very important to treat all of our patients with care, compassion and dignity, and are fully committed to providing person centered care.

We are a Dementia Friends advocate along with being fully signed up to John's Campaign as an organisation which is why I am concerned that you and your father did not experience this care here at Hairmyres Hospital.

Unfortunately the Senior Nurse for Emergency Care is on leave currently however, I would like the opportunity to explore your case in depth on her behalf.

Can I ask you to contact me directly on 01355 584664 to share your father's details in private in order for me to examine his case.

Kind Regards


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Response from Lise Axford, Senior Nurse, Emergency Medicine, Hairmyres Hospital

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Dear Cookie crumble,

Thank you for contacting Gwen and for discussing your detailed concerns with myself. I have spoken directly with the nursing and medical team involved in your dads care and shared with the wider team.

I appreciate you taking the time to talk through your experience.

Best wishes


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