"Staff need to be aware when communicating with special needs people"

About: Broomfield Hospital / Older people's healthcare

(as the patient),

Before I relate my story let me state I owe my life to the NHS and its staff, although it wasn't at Broomfield.

During my stay at Broomfield in 2013 I shared a ward with a very confused and friendly dementia patient. His normal response to any question by doctors, nurses etc was "yes".

Imagine the scenario "good morning are you in pain" "Yes" he says and is then given a pain killing injection......

"Would you like a cup of tea?", "yes" he says , "with sugar?", "yes" he says and then takes one sip and leaves it.

"Do you want porridge"? , "yes" he says, one mouthful and he leaves it,

These examples were repeated on various occasions.

When his sister visited I mentioned his leaving food and drink and it transpired that he only drank coffee without sugar. He liked weetabix for breakfast etc all of which had been detailed by his sister on his admission.

I advised some of the staff of his preferences but one in particular told me he wanted it and made a point of giving him his drink saying out loud "There you go one cup of tea with sugar" (which he didn't drink). Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest comes to mind....

Please don't get me wrong the staff were very helpful and friendly but it was obvious that he was special needs and people should have been made aware of this.

I was relieved for him when he was eventually discharged. As for myself that's another story....

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Response from Jonathan Wright, Patient Experience & Voluntary Services Manager, Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust

picture of Jonathan Wright

I really appreciate the comments you have posted. All ward staff and volunteers receive Dementia Training and I am disappointed that this was not put into practice in regard to this gentleman’s care. I would be grateful if you would email me the ward that you were a patient on so the Dementia & Elderly Assessment Teams can investigate.

If you have any other concerns please also email them to me.


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