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"Below standard care"

About: Forth Valley Royal Hospital / Elderly medicine

(as a relative),

Our mum has been in Forth Valley Hospital ward B21 for just over four weeks now, she is currently being treated for delirium however, we feel that the care that she has been given has been below standard. Whilst in hospital there have been several occasions where the nursing staff have not listened to our requests or taken what we have said seriously.

Mum is very confused and can’t communicate properly however had indicated that she thought she had an infection as she explained it was painful to pass urine. We asked a nurse to take a urine sample from her on the Sunday night and the nurse’s response was “oh, I’m not usually in this ward but I’ll say to one of the girls”.   This request wasn’t actioned until the following Thursday.  When the results came back it came to light that she had a UTI and was treated with antibiotics. Whilst being in the ward, we feel only one member of staff has listened to us, has been compassionate and has kept our Mums best interests at heart and had regular conversations with regarding our Mum and how she is being cared for and treated from a psychiatric point of view.  

When she was first admitted to the ward, she’d had no treatment for her delirium for two weeks, making her more agitated, anxious and wandered. Our mum has quite an extensive medical history and it is imperative that she takes her tablets every day. We have been told on two separate occasions that she has not had her medication as “patient refused”. Our mother has never refused medications, we appreciate in her confused state she may be reluctant, she was at one point suspicious of staff but in our experience she only needs some encouragement. 

Unfortunately in her time in B21 she has deteriorated in many aspects. Her mobility is now very poor that she is unable to walk safely. Visiting one day I was surprised to see Mum with a Zimmer frame, however, I reasoned that if it made Mum feel more confident and assisted in safe mobility it was a good thing. When visiting on another day I asked the staff if she could have her frame, I was told no and that she had not been assessed by the physiotherapist so she couldn't have it.  When I asked why she had had on my prior visit I was given a very vague answer. I have to ask why she was allowed this if it wasn’t prescribed by a physiotherapist but more importantly why she hasn’t been assessed by a physiotherapist.

Also, for the first time she has become incontinent as the staff are unable to take her to the toilet on time and Mum often needs the toilet with a sense of urgency. She is now wearing incontinence pads. On one occasion we pressed the buzzer as we could not see or find any staff and Mum needed to use the toilet. We waited for 12 minutes before a student nurse came and turned the buzzer off and left the room again, it was another 7 minutes before she came back to assist her to the toilet.   This is unacceptable; an incontinence pad is not a substitute for taking a person to the toilet, especially when it causes distress and anxiety to the patient.

On another occasion we visited late in the afternoon and Mum was sound asleep. We had decided to wait as another family member had visited earlier that day and she was sleeping so we knew it wouldn’t be long before she woke. As soon as she was awake we’d asked a nurse to take her to the toilet at her request and at this point we’d stripped her bed as it was wet right through to the mattress.   The nurses brought her back, changed into clean clothing, sat her in her chair and left the room without cleaning the bed or making it up with fresh linen. We had sat with her and fed her dinner and she seemed happy. After a short period of time Mum had said she needed the toilet so we asked for one of the nurses to help as she was sitting in the office opposite Mum’s room.   As there was only one nurse present one of the visitors assisted them into the toilet. The nurse stepped outside of the bathroom to give mum some privacy whilst she done the toilet but instead of waiting, she returned to her office and continued on with her paperwork, this meant that one of the visitors had to keep an eye on Mum. When she was done, the visitor who’d been keeping an eye on Mum went and got the nurse who came back and after a few seconds said that Mum wasn’t finished so left again. This meant that again the visitor had to watch mum on the toilet as she kept trying to get up as she was claiming she was finished, her mobility is just too poor for her to be left alone as she is an extremely high fall risk.   Another visitor went to try and find the nurse who was no longer in the office so had to ask a student to assist. Another 3-4 minutes passed before two student nurses attended to mum who at this point was very anxious and was trying to get up from the toilet.    

We have family members who work in care settings with elderly people, we are absolutely aware that this is a very demanding and challenging environment. It would appear to us though in this situation that the most fundamental aspects of care are not adhered to. Hygiene/nutrition/hydration all seem to be afterthoughts and not at the forefront of care. I feel above all the dignity and respect for my mum is nonexistent. The communication within this ward is very bad, we have asked for meetings with doctors, thus far to no avail. We don’t know what Mum’s diagnosis is, the treatment plan is. We are desperate for information, we may not get the answers we want, that Mum will regain her former health but at least we would have a clearer picture of the future. We do not think this is too much to ask.

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Response from Donna Clark, Clinical Manager, Medical, FVRH 4 years ago
Donna Clark
Clinical Manager, Medical,
Submitted on 30/07/2019 at 16:22
Published on Care Opinion on 31/07/2019 at 10:18

I offer sincere apologies to both your mum and yourself for this negative experience within this care setting. This is not the standard of care we would endeavour to deliver. I would like to investigate these issues further and would be grateful to meet with you to discuss your experience fully. Please could I ask you to email me direct on to arrange a suitable time to meet.

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