"Lack of staff on Harbledown ward"

About: Kent & Canterbury Hospital / Older people's healthcare

(as a relative),

My Dad of 85 yrs, is severely dehydrated, has Alzheimers, has a severe infection, is unable to swallow food and needing his food pureed. He cannot weightbear so is bedridden.

Tonight I asked about the dementia nurse's visit, and was given a form to fill out for her. I sat next to Dad to do this. Dad, who was hallucinating and throwing his arms and legs about kept trying to get out of bed. The nurse was at the nurses station doing paperwork.

When I had finished the form, I tried to hand it in. No one about. I walked through the wards looking for someone to no avail. The man opposite my Dad was in agony waiting for pain relief that seemed to be never coming. Everyone had eaten their food, but my Dad's had still not arrived. The man serving the food said he had to go upstairs to use the microwave as their kitchen has been gutted for refurbishment. He had to swipe the microwave with the milk card, several times to heat the food sufficiently.

It was 6. 15pm before it arrived. There was no one there to feed him. I found the nurses having their 'lunch' all together at the same time (6:15), because they had had no time to eat beforehand. They said they were short staffed. I told them that dads food was there, that his drip was not working (he was reliant on this for rehydration), the nurse said she was coming to sort it. I asked if Dads food didn't arrive, would anyone be aware that he had not been fed? They assured me they would!

I gave the form in. They said I needed to write to the matron of the ward. I went back to dad. A white uniformed nurse said she couldn't do the drip, the other nurse would have to do it. She set about feeding dad, but did not follow the Salt Notice Guide that was pinned to the wall. His pills were dispensed and she broke them in half and gave him one. He choked so much and vomited, losing the tablet. She went to get clean bedclothes and was gone for ages. In the meantime she'd left the rest of the pills within Dads reach and he tried to take them. I took them away.

I checked his stoma bag and it was full to bursting point. I asked if anyone gave him drinks during the day as his mouth was dry as a bone? They said nurses were giving him drinks all morning. I pointed out that this was now evening, and he was VERY dry. Again seeing as he is so dehydrated, you would think this would be a priority. Poor Dad was so uncomfortable. It appeared that he had just been left.

I am very concerned that there are not enough staff to manage the ward effectively. If Dad had fallen out of bed there was no one there to have noticed, His medication was not going in, he was very thirsty, his food did not arrive at a reasonable hour, he was neglected. I could not leave him in this state, one hears about negligence in hospitals, and here I was faced with the problem and no way of changing it.

Basic human needs, care, food, liquids, none of which seemed to be forthcoming. I feel that things are done at the convenience of the staff rather than the needs of the patients. I put this to the nurse, and she agreed with me!

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Response from Julie Pearce, Chief Nurse + Director of Quality + Operations, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust We are preparing to make a change

Thank you for providing feedback and I am sorry that you and your father experienced delays in care. I will find out from the ward manager if there is a specific reason for the apparent shortage of staff. We are currently completing a review of ward staffing levels in response to an increase in the numbers of patients admitted to hospital with a high level of care needs. The report with recommendations will be discussed at our Board meeting in May.

As your father remains in hospital, please do contact me and I will ensure that you have an opportunity to discuss your concerns with Matron. I can be contacted via email on Julie.pearce1@nhs.net

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