"90 year old's experiences at Chesterfield Royal..."

About: Chesterfield Royal Hospital

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My 90 year old father was admitted to Barnes ward between Christmas and New Year. He has limited mobility but gets around well using a zimmer frame. He has an independent mind and is very alert. He has never been bed ridden and takes himself to the toilet at home.

Father was taken to hospital by emergency ambulance, subsequently admitted to Barnes ward. He had neither his walking stick or zimmer frame. This ward was clearly busy and there were difficulties getting staff to bring bottles and the commode to his bedside. I suggested several times that if they supplied him with a zimmer frame he would be able to take himself to the loo - a distance of about 12 steps. He was not linked to any monitoring equipment nor a drip. His bowel movements and urine were not the subject of investigation. He does not have a history of falls. Staff nurses were very understanding, said they would look for a zimmer frame but nothing ever happened. Nursing assistants were offhand, unfriendly and rude. I offered to bring father's zimmer frame in from home but was told not to.

Father complained to me at every visit (twice daily) about how long he had to wait, usually over two hours at times for urine bottles and the commode. It got to the point that during the visit I would go to the nurses station and ask for two bottles so at least I knew when I left he would be able to have a wee if needs be. Father told me that the patient in the bed next to him, another elderly gent, was having the same problems getting staff to bring bottles/bedpans and had twice soiled the bed. Father was particularly upset that when the nursing staff were cleaning up the patient next to him, he could hear them telling the gentleman off for not controlling his bowels better.

The final insult came when father asked for a bottle on day 4 of his stay only to be told abruptly by a nursing assistant to take himself to the toilet, who then pointed and added "it is only just there". When father said he did not have a walking stick or zimmer frame, the assistant pointed to the bedside of another patient (who was sleeping at the time) and told my father to take their zimmer frame.

I was very dismayed at the lack of dignity and respect shown to my father and generally to patients in this ward. I felt all the posters on the corridors declaring the Royal's commitment to treating patients with dignity and respect that I passed on the way to and from the ward amounted to nothing more than empty words.

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Response from Chesterfield Royal Hospital

I am saddened to read your comments about your father's care and treatment; and fully appreciate why you feel that our 'Proud to Care' ethos was not experienced on this occasion. Your description of your father's treatment does not appear to match the high-standards we aim to reach. I hope you will consider getting in touch with us so that we can learn from what you witnessed. Although we have a formal complaints procedure you might like to consider coming in to talk to the ward matron, to relay how this made you and your father feel? Something to think about. I appreciate that investigating your complaint will not change what happened to your father; but I hope it will assure you to know that it would make a difference to future patients. If you would like to register your issues as a complaint you are welcome to do so, by calling our Advice Centre on 01246 512640. Sarah Turner-Saint, Head of Communications

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