Sunday, 2 December 2012

Care for the Elderly (Continued)

So my poor mother who is 96 years of age broke her hip and had to have an operation!  You remember the plot?  She is now in the care of the NHS.  Lucky Mum!  She was operated on yesterday after 30 hours of pain from a broken hip.

I got a call from Leicester Royal at 10.40pm asking ME for the number of her care home because she did not have a fracture and they were sending her home!  Consequently I went down to her home on Saturday morning to be told that she had not arrived!  Leicester Royal (bless 'em) were keeping her in because at 11pm Friday evening (she arrived at 8am Friday morning) they discovered at the second attempt that she actually did have a fracture!

Of course nobody thought we might be interested.  In the end the Care home rang me and eventually there was a follow up call from the Royal. By now it is well into Saturday.

We live in Loughborough so there was no point in visiting Mum in Leicester after she had been operated on late on Saturday afternoon.  We arrived today armed with evidence that I was her Power of Attorney which had been requested.  I handed it over to the charge nurse to be photocopied.

We then discovered my mother lying in a lot of discomfort (she is 96) and she cannot swallow pain relief tablets. We suggested liquid pain relief but we were informed that there was no liquid pain relief on the ward and it had to be requested!!! I repeat this lady is 96!!! Eventually we suggested soluble pain relief and eventually ... and I mean 30 minutes ... somebody decided that they would put themselves out to help her!

In the meantime the document proving that I was her Power of Attorney had been given to the charge nurse to be photocopied. Oops the photocopier was not working and so they set off to find a photocopier that was working. It was Sunday so they tried office and office to find a photocopier that was available. This is one sheet of paper folks! You cannot believe that this took almost an hour!

I have yet to comment that when we arrived my mother was lying in bed with no false teeth. Now what does it take to ask an old lady if she wanted her teeth back in?  Did none of them realise that this little bit of dignity was important?  To be honest this was the straw that made me realise that the NHS has forgotten how to care. They actually don't care!

They have been taught not to care.  They ignore all the important aspects of care.  Don't get me wrong because they are all pleasant and they are all courteous but they don't actually care. They don't know how to care because they spend most of their days either in front of a computer or on the end of a phone. Please don't ask them to go and talk to a patient because that is beyond their remit! No it is not because at a designated point they deliver drugs!

They have a delivery system when a senior nurse actually comes around and you your pills.  The other point of contact is when a consultant, first thing in the morning, comes around with his entourage and that is your only chance to actually talk to a human being.

It was bad when I was seriously ill but I that was 12 years ago. My mother has me and my wife to cater for her.  We ask questions and try to ensure that she is looked after.  In the next room to my mother today was an old lady who clearly had nobody.  She was deranged and was  continually asking for some kind of assurance.  It was pathetic but nobody considered that she needed any kind of consideration!

Care is clearly a dirty word in today's society!  


SAB said...

I'll never forget being over at Burton Queens Hospital at my wife's bedside. She was due to give birth to our son and was in a lot if pain. We had to wait for ages for a delivery suite to become available. She'd used up any kind of pain relief they could administer and when a suite finally became available we had to physically get her there.

There were no wheelchairs to be found (they were consider gold dust). If tookl us ages to get her to the end of the first corridor, with another long corridor still to get down. Then out of nowhere we spot two nurses using a perfectly good wheelchair to transport stationery!!! Yes about 5 reams of copier paper (probably for your photocopier) and a box of pens. They could see us struggling and in distress but they refused to hand over their wheelchair!!! That moment summed it all up for me. I made a formal complaint and we've since been told 'measures' have been taken etc...but those two nurses simply DID NOT CARE.

GrumpyRN said...

Hi Bryan, I am going to put my head above the parapet on this one so please feel free to have a go at me.

First off, sorry your mum is in hospital. Initial A&E experience sounds awful, in Scotland we have a door to needle time target of 30 minutes for pain relief for broken hips. Sounds as if the break was initially missed therefore she would go down a different pathway. Not an excuse but perhaps some explanation. Once the break was diagnosed the ward may have thought the home would inform you, they may not have had your number but would have had the homes number.

Photocopier; not usually part of a wards equipment and being Sunday, offices are closed so very difficult to get photocopying done. Also, when they sent a staff member to get the photocopying done that member was no longer available for ward work. As an aside, SAB, are you sure they were nurses? I can't think of any reason why 2 nurses would be used to transport paper. Many staff wear uniforms that make them look like nurses when they are in fact office workers. In Scotland we all wear different colours to identify nurses and ancillary staff to prevent this type of mistake.

Medication; an adult ward would be unlikely to have liquid pain relief and it would have to be ordered or borrowed - the same for soluble. 30 minutes in a busy orthopaedic ward to find, get and make up soluble medication is, I think, reasonable - I know you don't see it that way but it is in fact quite time consuming.

False teeth; yes I know it looks bad and perhaps they should have been in place but are you sure she was not asked? Some patients (especially the elderly) after operations become very confused and disorientated and can do and say things that are completely out of character. When I have been assaulted in hospital it is invariably an elderly person and the ladies are worse because you don't expect it.

"They have been taught not to care". Sorry Bryan but I must take issue with you on this. We ARE taught to care. We do not have TIME to care. Did you see what was happening in the rest of the ward? How many elderly patients were there? How many post op or pre op patients? How many staff to deal with all the requests and work needing done. You yourself have already taken a member of staff away for an hour to photocopy a paper - now multiply that for every patient in the ward.

to be continued;

GrumpyRN said...

Sorry, too many characters for one post.

"They don't know how to care because they spend most of their days either in front of a computer or on the end of a phone". Nothing gets done in hospitals nowadays without going onto the computer, all requests for X-Rays, blood tests, previous results are all on the computer. It does not get done by hand now. Patients families continually call the ward asking about their relatives. Multiple calls for every patient. Only the nurse dealing with that patient can answer the questions so they get dragged away from their duties to answer the same questions about Mrs. Smith for the 6th time that day because family won't talk to each other and think the have the right to information at any time of the day that they find suitable.

Talk to a patient.......? I wish the ward staff had time to talk to each other, never mind the patients.

Sadly some patients with dementia are distressed, nothing can be done for this except sedation which is worse. When they are out of their own environment the distress can become worse. It has nothing to do with consideration but it would require a staff member to sit with them for 24 hours a day.

I know you have had issues in the past with this hospital Bryan and this is possibly colouring your outlook on your mothers care. Also you read the Daily Mail which is well known for NHS bashing and continually sensationalises quite minor issues. Yes there are problems with the NHS but please remember that for the past 20 years we have had cuts in the NHS budget and we are still being told to save money. The UK does not have a legal nurse to patient ratio so 1 nurse can easily have up to 15 patients to look after. This is not new - google Graham Pink.

This is not meant as an excuse for poor care but perhaps I can show why things happen and that it is not all the nursing staff's fault.

Also, have a look at a blog called Militant Medical Nurse here
although she has moved to America she worked in a UK hospital for some time and if you go back into her historical posts you will find exactly what you are talking about but from a nurses point of view who is in the middle of it.

Anonymous said...

I went on Danny Alexander MP
Chief Secretary to the Treasurys website

Pressed the butoon on left
“Make a Donation”

and paid 9 [nine] pence into his account using PayPal.

I urge everyone to send tuppence to Danny.

GrumpyRN said...

Hi Bryan, hope all is well with your mother, I know the complications that can arise when the elderly are hospitalised for hip fractures.

Further to my comments from yesterday, I see that the government are wanting hospitals to show compassion and are going to give nursing and medical staff something else to do so that we have even less time with patients. The only solution is proper trained nurse to patient ratios to allow us to actually do our jobs but as long as nursing numbers are decided by accountants then patient care will suffer.

bryboy said...

Hello GRN I did wonder if you would respond to my post and thank you for doing so. My experience of life makes me acknowledge that there are always two sides to a story and I respect your stance. Firstly let me assure you that I do not want or like to criticise nursing staff. I know how difficult it is to deal with the public in this modern society but it is difficult to ignore the behaviour that I have witnessed. It continues at every visit. Yesterday we arrived to discover that my mother had been moved to another ward. The good news is that she is improving but her much younger 'neighbour' tells us that she had to use her own buzzer to request pain relief for my mother during the night! She had been moved but all her personal belongings (little items like orange squash, maltesers etc) were still in a plastic carrier bag which had not been unpacked! While we were there an auxiliary (not a nurse I know) delivered her a cup of tea and put it out of her reach!
You will appreciate that we are concerned so when we ask for information it is annoying to be ignored by a group of nurses discussing their social life at reception.

Tks for giving this blog a response GRN and of as usual you make some very valid points. Leicester Royal is notorious and it may be unfair to use it as an example but the public at large are complaining vociferously so the modern nursing profession does appear to have a problem. Having said that, there are caring nurses but unfortunately I seem to meet too many who do not seem to care.
Regards to you GRN and please keep voicing your experience.