"Disappointing dementia care"

About: Northampton General Hospital (Acute) / Older people's healthcare

(as the patient),

My 84 year old father was admitted to Northampton General Hospital after collapsing at home earlier this year. He suffered from dementia and was unable to feed himself.

My mother visted every day to give him his lunch and spend the afternoon at his bedside. She was very distressed to repeatedly find unopened packets of cereal, pots of milk and unused drinks on his bedside table. She was also concerned to find pots of tablets including steroid tablets untouched. Fluid balance charts at the foot of the bed were incompletely kept and apparently not evaluated.

Some of the nurses were caring, some appeared to be in the wrong job. There appeared to be no clear hierarchy on the ward, and there was a sense that messages although heeded at the time, were not passed on.

My father became dehydrated and required a drip, his bowels had not been opened for a week, and he was in pain - we had to ask for help for him. He was pretty forcibly discharged at 7pm via St. Johns Ambulance after we had struggled to find a place in a dementia unit as my mother could no longer care for him at home.

We were left with the general impression that the care was similar to that in a 3rd world country, i.e. that if you did not have relatives to care for you, you would probably die. I was especially disappointed in the standard of care as I am a local GP and have been referring patients to Northampton General for many years, in the belief that they would be obtaining adequate care.

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Response from Northampton General Hospital 17 years ago
Submitted on 24/08/2006 at 11:44

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments. The first thing to say is that

Your experience and your father’s care clearly isn’t an acceptable standard. Without more information about the ward where your father was admitted it’s hard to take practical steps to resolve the issues you raise directly with staff.

However, we clearly need to learn from your family’s difficult experience so we want to use your posting to raise awareness among the staff on our wards. We intend to …

- Circulate your story to discuss with all ward managers.

- Ask ward managers to discuss it with their staff

- Review our in house training to Include training on dementia and care of the elderly

- Ensure clear responsibilities and leadership is evident on the wards by introducing and then monitoring the policy on “ Nurse in Charge”

- As a GP yourself I’m sure you can understand that getting critical feedback is never easy for staff but it is always also an important opportunity for organisations to learn difficult lessons. If you continue to experience problems please contact us immediately in order that we can put things right straightaway. This can be done confidentially using our PALs officer if this is the preferred route.

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