"Joined-up service"

About: St Helier Hospital

Anything else?

I write based on the experience of a member of my support group for Parkinson's. He was hospitalised several times because of falling (in the street) and being taken to hospital as a result. However, the last time he fell, he fractured some bones (ribs) and was confined to walking after a week to a zimmer frame.

Now this gentleman has been a hardworking and active engineer for most of his life and he was also aspiring to be a published author and was active locally running an authors' circle. Being diagnosed with Parkinson's was a blow. I also gather from speaking to him that he was lonely and wanted companionship, having lost his wife some 20 years ago. Why am I saying all this? To give you a holistic picture of this person and why treatment in hospitals should not just treat the medical issues only but a holistic approach will have better results. Anyway, he wanted to go home so that he could be engaged in things he enjoyed and be in familiar territory instead of being mind-boggingly bored in hospital. So just before he discharged himself an Occupational Therapist went over to his flat to ensure it was safe for him to return home. For this I commend the hospital but they should have gone a step further. He was not assessed to find out how he would cope on a day-to-day basis in relation to feeding himself, buying groceries and attending to the business of daily living as he was unable to walk without the zimmer and he found just walking a few steps exhausting contributed to by his healing ribs and Parkinson's. This is where I get the response that this was the remit of social care. Even if this was so, surely the hospital should have handed his case over to social care and he should have been briefed on what happens next about his recovery progress, his needs to live daily, his doctor's role in the recovery process, the role of a physio as he would need to be rehabilitated at some point and his state of mind generally. Instead he has relied solely on his wits, his neighbours (to help with shopping and some errands). I have butted in as he is part of my support group and I care about him. He has been affected by this last episode as he has been unable to focus on his writing, is constantly tired, and his confidence constantly challenged. No one person or service is taking responsibility to bring him back to 'normal' and every time I see him, I can see his desperation for all of this to go away so that he can lead a normal life which he had to some degree before this particular fall happened. We are gradually sorting things out but I'm sure if he had support from health and social care professionals he would recover faster. It would restore so much of his confidence and help him regain some of the dignity he has lost . As I write, I know for a fact that whatever intervention there has been in his recovery is as a result of both of us contacting various bodies for help. There doesn't appear to be anyone else.

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Response from St Helier Hospital

Thank you for taking the time to post a comment about the care we provided to your friend from the Parkinson's support group.

I am sorry to hear of his recent fall and the need to stay in hospital.

You are right in saying that the care provided to your friend (after being discharged from hospital) is the responsibility of social services and/or community care. However, that doesn't mean it has to be as 'black and white' as that. As such, it's crucial that we work closely with social services and other NHS partners to ensure patients get the best possible care both inside and outside of hospital.

You may know that the Government have today announced new plans which would see better integration between social care and healthcare. I am confident that this will help to improve things, however, that will take time.

As such, I have shared your message with our medicine team and asked them to share it with appropriate colleagues, both in our hospitals and in social and community care.

In addition, I would ask you to ask your friend (of for you) to contact our patient advice and liaison service (PALS) if you have concerns about the care he is receiving out of hospital. They can liaise with our clinicians and/or other NHS and social care partners, if necessary, to ensure he receives the care he needs.

See here for more information about our PALS service: www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk/pals.

Thank you again for your comment.

Pippa Hart

Director of Nursing

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