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"Older person accessing medical appointment"

About: Outpatients Services / Ophthalmology Outpatients

(as a relative),

Just had an appointment at the Mater hospital Belfast with my father who is 80 with reduced mobility and heart failure. 

These are the barriers we faced:

Disabled parking CLOSED. Drop off only. If he had been driving himself he couldn’t have reached his appointment. No prior warning that disabled car park was closed.

Map on Belfast Trust website naming the buildings is WRONG. Lots of walking done unnecessarily. Dad out of breath, needing frequent rests, stress levels rising. He now feels like he’s a burden. 

I run round the grounds while he rests to find the correct building. 

Look on his appointment letter to see exactly where we have to go. Level 2 apparently. Get in lift and press 2 button. Get out to be faced with 2 different signs that state that we are now on level 2 or level 1 - take your pick???

Appointment letter says Ophthalmic Dept. After reading all signs there is no such department on floor 2 (or is it floor 1? Turns out the letter should have said outpatients department.

When we found the correct place the staff were wonderful, waiting time was short and service very good.

Sort it out! The situation as it stands is robbing our older generation of their independence and confidence. 

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Responses

Response from Susan Garland, PPI Support Services Manager, Logistics, BHSCT 2 weeks ago
We have made a change
Susan Garland
PPI Support Services Manager, Logistics,
BHSCT
Submitted on 04/06/2024 at 11:13
Published on Care Opinion at 11:28


Hi Eliza 1972,

My name is Susan Garland and am a Logistics Support Services Manager for BHSCT. Firstly I would like to apologise for the experience you and your father had when visiting the Mater Site. The Disabled parking bays at the front of the hospital have been reduced on this site to enable essential maintenance work required on the exterior of the building.

This has been advertised on the BHSCT (getting there - by car) website and patients / clients redirected to other available Disabled spaces in Fairview and main car park. We have increased disabled parking in these areas to compensate for the 3 spaces used by contractors and it is intended that the spaces will be returned to car parking once these works are completed later this year.

If you require further assistance with car parking please do not hesitate to contact me, I would be pleased to be of any assistance I can

Kind Regards

Susan.

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Update posted by Eliza1972 (a relative)

I understand that there may be alternative spaces, but it would be useful if these were advertised on the appointment letter. How would my dad know to look up the Belfast trust website to find where to park? It certainly wasn’t signposted at the main entrance. My father can’t walk for long distances, so if he had driven himself alternative remote parking would not meet his needs. This needs to be clearly outlined in personal correspondence.

Response from Clare Lundy, Co-Director, Imaging, Medical Physics and Outpatient Services, Belfast HSC Trust 2 weeks ago
We are preparing to make a change
Clare Lundy
Co-Director, Imaging, Medical Physics and Outpatient Services,
Belfast HSC Trust
Submitted on 04/06/2024 at 13:03
Published on Care Opinion at 13:57


Dear Eliza

I have just read your email communication regarding your recent experience whilst attending the Mater Hospital Outpatients Department, with your Father. I note Susan has responded in relation to the disabled car parking spaces. We take on board your comments and will look to identify how we can communicate such information to visitors to the Mater site, in future.

Regarding the signage for Outpatients. Thank you for this feedback. I will discuss this with Alison Donnelly who is the Service Manager for this area in the Mater Outpatients Department. We will review the signage and ensure that the information is correctly displayed so as to avoid any further poor experiences for patients, family, carers and all service users.

I am happy to take a call to discuss this with you. My mobile number is 07780465017.

Regards

Clare

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Response from Bernie Carey, Service Manager, Mater Hospital, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust 2 weeks ago
We are preparing to make a change
Bernie Carey
Service Manager, Mater Hospital,
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
Submitted on 04/06/2024 at 13:42
Published on Care Opinion at 13:58


Dear Eliza1972

My name is Bernie Carey and I am the site Manager at the Mater Hospital. I would like to extend my sincere apologies for the very poor and frustrating experience during your recent appointment, especially considering your father's heart failure and reduced mobility. I understand the incorrect directions on your appointment letter added to your difficulties. I totally sense you were very frustrated and I am sorry. You have highlighted and expressed significant frustration due to two main issues. Please be assured that both issues are currently being addressed.

We are implementing a New Way finding strategy and constructing a new disabled car park at the front of the hospital as Susan as previously alluded to. The Way finding strategy will include adding a bar code and directions and this is planned to be included in your appointment letter. This is in the very early stages and will take time to have this operational. We have recognised that these issues are concerning and very much needed to improve accessibility as well as ensuring a smoother experience for All service users.

In the meantime Eliza1972, if you are visiting again for an appointment please ask the team at the front gate to assist you and direct you, while you get your father to his appointment. We will do our upmost to make this as smooth as possible.

Once again, Thank you for highlighting your concerns and I am sorry for what was a very poor experience.

Take care,

Bernie

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Response from Sara McMullan, Outpatients Sister, Mater Hospital, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust 2 weeks ago
We are preparing to make a change
Sara McMullan
Outpatients Sister, Mater Hospital,
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
Submitted on 04/06/2024 at 17:44
Published on Care Opinion on 05/06/2024 at 07:52


Dear Eliza 1972

My name is Sara McMullan, I am the Outpatients manager on level 2 where your father had his appointment.

I am sorry to hear that your father and you had such a negative experience accessing the site and finding my department. I will work with the site co-ordinator and my line management to improve the signage to my area.

However I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your kind words about the staff and your visit once you arrived.

Kind Regards

Sara

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