"Home to Hospital to Nursing Home for my aunt"

About: Blackpool Blackpool Victoria Hospital / General surgery Woodend Nursing and Residential Centre

(as a relative),

I wanted to feedback different elements of what has been for my aunt and the family a long and difficult experience over the last 6 months. It started when my aunt who was managing with a smallish package of care in her retirement flat near Blackpool, was admitted to Ward 5 at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. She had a few problems which had escalated and went into a surgical ward. Mostly our experience of the ward was very good. She was there for an unusually long time as the surgeon had to balance the risks of surgery and her deteriorating health. I just want to add that the care from the care agency ARC Community Care in Lytham was great and the support worker called Karen was outstanding.

What was particularly good was the communication with family members. The ward sisters and nurses worked out passwords so we could talk about my aunt with her permission. All the staff were kind and patient with my aunt. In the end surgery did not take place and I know that my sister who spoke to the surgeon, felt that he was in a difficult position and he was sincere when talking to the family about the decision making process.

It was when there was a decision to discharge her that a lot of difficulties really arose. I will try and sum up my feedback to the local authority regarding this process:

1. I arranged to take time off to meet the social worker on the ward to help with the assessment. I drove for nearly 3 hours across the country to do so. He arrived on the ward nearly an hour late and then insisted on reading notes before talking to me. This meant I only had a short time to see him before needing to return home.

2. The standard of communication with all members of the family about the process of both the community care assessment and the financial assessment was very poor. The delays of getting it to panel and then trying to sort out finances left my poor aunt in a dreadful position on an unsuitable ward for an unreasonably long time. The ward to be fair were very tolerant but my siblings and I were shocked at the cost of keeping my aunt on a surgical ward waiting for this process to be properly co-ordinated.

3. Our contact with the financial department of the local authority was terrible. Different messages from different people, no coordination with social services, no clear timelines, no clear explanation of the process. My aunt has no children but has her own flat and therefore some capital. They did not seem to be listening to our situation at all but just seemed to want us to fit in with how they wanted to do things.

4. The assessment came out that she needed nursing care which we agreed with but then we wanted my aunt to come and be in a home near family ie my siblings and other cousins and her sister. They did not seem to support this and both they and the liaison discharge people seemed to want her to go to a local home where she would have had no visitors. The home they found a vacancy for had had a very poor CQC report on a recent inspection.

5. It was only when we took it to the team leader and the area manager and made it clear we would not be pushed into doing something that was not in our aunts best interests that we managed to get her out of hospital and into a BUPA nursing home -Woodend End in Cheshire. Just to add a farcical element after all these weeks of her blocking a bed they had not worked out how to sort out an ambulance to take her across to another county. Again unbelievable lack of joined up thinking. Can I just say this was nothing to do with the ward but more to do with bureaucracy. The sister on the ward was great as well as frustrated and helped sort it out.

Before I just go onto my last bit of feedback can I just say how much time this took for me my brother my sister and her sister to sort all this out and to fight her corner. When you also add that I am an ex hospital social worker and my brother a company director, you wonder what happens to people who haven’t got this sort of back up. It was good that we had organised power of attourney for me and my brother a few years ago. I urge others to look at doing the same.

The final chapter is that she has been at Woodend now for six months. Itss not easy because she really never wanted to end up in a home. But we have been so relieved that she is there and all the staff at all levels show her kindness and compassion and treat her with dignity and respect. Very importantly they are always cheerful and generate fun and humour. The home have also been keen to sort out all her needs and communicated with us effectively. Most importantly she is in a safe place which meets her needs. I almost forgot the food is very good and they are very flexible with my aunt who is a fussy eater.

I hope that this gets to all the organisations. The family and I don’t want to formally complain but we would like people to take notice.

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