"My mother's care - the trouble with bed sores"

(as the patient),

In January 2001 at 73 my mother went onto a recovery ward after a subarachnoid haemorrhage. We realised after a while that whenever we visited she was always facing away from the window. She got several infections. She did not get better. She was not all there but she complained of some pain from bed sores. We were told that such sores were inevitable.

By May I had overcome objections from my brothers and had her moved to a private home in Putney. The sister there, who was ex-NHS, said I should see her sores for myself. I looked. I could see white pelvic bone at her hip. The sores went right down to her bones in several places. She died a week later. The sister concluded that the gravity of her sores indicated that she had not been moved much, if at all, whilst in the NHS. We were never informed of the severity of the sores.

I assume that the ward doctors had never seen her naked and did not look at her body.

One of my brothers works for the NHS as a professor and qualified doctor. The other is HIV positive and has received good treatment. They did not want to know about my mother's sores after her death. They would not have wanted me to complain. I didn't. I should have.

It is very interesting to compare the reaction of those with medical training to bed sores. To my mother-in-law, a former deputy matron who worked in hospitals in the 60s, 70s and 80s and is now in her late sixties, bed sores are always an indication of poor treatment and incompetent care. This view was shared by her peers.

To my brother, now in his forties and to our other friends of his age who are doctors, bed sores are something that happens. They are part of life. This despite the advent of sophisticated water beds.

I have no intention whatsoever of taking this further as a complaint. But I think that it shows the problems of long-term care nursing of the elderly.

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