"My father's care on Writtle Ward"

About: Broomfield Hospital / Older people's healthcare

(as a relative),

My 94 year old father was admitted to Broomfield Hospital after suffering 3 falls in 9 days.

After the previous two falls he had been discharged back to his nursing home but this time the family obtained a 'safety order' from the hospital due to concerns for his welfare and the care at the home going from good to inadequate. Although my father suffered from dementia he was healthy physically.

My father was admitted to Baddow Ward while the family looked for more suitable accommodation. While on this bright clean ward he was supervised to make sure he was eating, encouraged to be mobile and treated with dignity and kindness. After a few days on the ward he was making good progress and the family were searching for a new nursing home for him. During this time he was assessed and a report made on his condition for other homes to consider his suitability for the care they offered.

Then on one of our daily visits we found he had been moved to Writtle Ward. When we got to this ward we found his bed had been put on the lowest level almost on the floor in a corner of the ward. Being in this position and lower than the other beds it could only be described as dark and dingy. When we could eventually find someone to ask why this had been done we were abruptly told that while he was at floor level he couldn't fall and they didn't have the time to watch him.

We also saw on his notes that he hadn't eaten since going on the ward and were told they had left a meal and drink on a chair but he wasn't hungry and hadn't eaten it so they had taken it away. We told them that's because he couldn't reach it but they were totally disinterested. We then went out and bought him some food and he ate it all.

Over the next couple of days my father deteriorated alarmingly. He was unkempt, his bedding wasn't changed and he had lost weight. We had to take food and drink in to him every day and it was obvious he was hungry and thirsty. One day it was so bad that he was trying to snatch a sandwich from my hand while I was getting it out of the packet. Every day when we tried to talk to the nursing staff they were either too busy chatting, nowhere to be seen or their attitude was appalling.

One day a social worker who was visiting another patient saw my father and  went and spoke to them herself. This resulted in them saying they would put a coloured band on his tray, but nothing changed.

One weekend things were so bad that I phoned the hospital switchboard to ask where I could find someone to talk to. No one was available as it was a Sunday but on hearing what had been going told me to make an official complaint.

The most distressing thing was when we were led to understand that we had found a place for him in another nursing home, dependent on the manager's assessment, we were then told after his visit that he couldn't take him because he was a completely different person described to him by the hospital before he had gone to Writtle Ward and they wouldn't be able to meet his needs.

My father had gone from a man who walked around most of the day and ate very well to someone whose muscles had gone to waste and who was a shadow of his former self in a very short space of time.

While on the ward he was left in bed and forgotten about. Luckily for us after pleading with the manager and describing the conditions he had been left in, they did take him but my father was never the same mentally or physically and never had the strength to get out of bed again. The damage had been done!

I have to say that when sometime later my father had to go into Basildon hospital their treatment of him was completely different, he was treated like a human being and with dignity and not made to feel that he was old so didn't matter.