"No care cover for my disabled wife when I, her 24/7 carer, was admitted to hospital"
About: Mackinnon Memorial Hospital / Accident & Emergency Mackinnon Memorial Hospital Accident & Emergency IV49 9AA
Posted by LS1 (as ),
It has taken me several weeks to even feel well enough to write this. My wife is disabled and uses a power assisted wheelchair. I provide 24/7 care for her as we cannot seem to find enough additional carers in the remote rural area in which we live. I fell ill several weeks ago and had to receive treatment at my local Health Centre 7 days a week. I was then told I needed to be admitted to hospital. I explained that I couldn’t be admitted to hospital without knowing there was care in place for my wife at home as I was her 24/7 carer. I also explained that I was one of the three responders for my wife’s emergency Telecare button and the other two were currently away from the area (most unusually).
For three weeks as my condition deteriorated and I felt more ill, I was told 7 days a week that I must be admitted to hospital and I kept telling GPs and nurses that I couldn’t leave my wife without a carer. I was repeatedly told that an emergency care package could be put in place. After three weeks of this, we discovered no emergency care package had even been requested, let alone put in place. An hour before I was admitted to the hospital the GP requested an emergency care package for my wife but nothing could be provided. This was an emergency situation. We were at crisis point but nothing could be provided locally.
Instead they offered her a place in a residential care home (which is inaccessible to her wheelchair) 26 miles from home, and from the hospital I was being admitted to (she is not a pensioner). They then offered her a place in a residential care home (also not properly accessible) approximately 80 miles from home and the hospital. At that time, she was unable to drive her wheelchair accessible vehicle due to problems with her condition. Given they said she needed to be with me at the hospital to learn how to inject my medication, etc. it was agreed that a place in a residential care home was not suitable.
My wife had to stay at home with no care. During my stay in hospital she had no access to meals, no help, care, etc. No one even asked her, or me, if she was coping. She wasn’t.
She had several stumbles and falls, one a particularly bad fall. She had joint dislocations. She was too scared to press her emergency button as she felt that if the residential care beds previously offered had been filled, she would then be sent into residential care 100+ miles away and would not be able to learn about my condition and how to administer my medication, or help me, etc. She did not sleep at night for fear of choking (part of her condition) as there was no one to help her if she did.
I was extremely concerned and worried for my wife. She was exhausted and terrified (and on more than one occasion has suggested that she is the problem and that things would be better for everyone, including the NHS, if she didn’t exist anymore). I love my wife and I don’t want her to feel like this. She seems to have had what I can only describe as a breakdown as a result of her terrifying experience. She is not the same person I knew beforehand. She is very low and still very upset. She lacks self confidence. She has repeated nightmares where she believes I am being carried out of our home on a stretcher and the door closes and she is left alone without care again. She normally works very hard but feels incapable of returning to her old self. This has had a hugely detrimental effect on the health of both of us. I don’t believe I can ever be admitted to hospital again if this is likely to happen again. My wife felt she could always stand up for herself, and for others, and is articulate. If we couldn’t get the care she needed then how many others are there out there who are less able to speak up not getting the care they need too? Something must be done to ensure this never happens again - to us or to anyone else - or some day, someone will die.
The caring profession needs to start caring or else speak up publicly as to why they can’t and do something about it.