"Lack of dignity in the care of my dying mother"

About: Glasgow Royal Infirmary

(as a relative),

I arrived at my parents' home after receiving a telephone call from my father saying that he thought there was something seriously wrong with my mother. My mother was laying on the settee making noises but completely unable to communicate.

I dialled 999 for an ambulance and explained the situation to the emergancy services operator. She told me that she had despatched an ambulance but in the meantime could I get my mother onto the floor and loosen her clothing.

I carried out the instructions I was given by the operator and my mother stopped breathing, fortunately I had some tuition in CPR and managed to get my mother's breathing back again. Eventually after what seemed an eternity the ambulance finally arrived. My daughter had come with me to my parents house, both she and my father were in shock but I had managed to maintain calm because of the training I had received while studying HNC Social Work.

The ambulance crew arrived (2 females). One entered my parents' home, and she assessed my mother then immediately administered atropine, at which point my mother lost control of her bladder and bowels. (I knew that my mother had suffered a stroke because of the training I had received but I could not mention this to my daughter or father because I did not want to scare them any more than they already were).

At this point the second female entered the house and they proceeded to get my mother into a carry chair. I followed them out to the ambulance and they asked me what I was doing when I attempted to enter the ambulance. I told them that I was accompanying my mother to the hospital. The ambulance attendant who was not the driver told me that I was not required. I explained that I was not interested whether or not she thought I was required, I was not permitting my mother to go alone to the hospital.

The woman continued to try to prevent me from entering the ambulance and I told her that if I had to lay down in front of the ambulance there was no way that my mother was going into the hospital alone. Grudgingly she permitted me access to the ambulance and told me to put on the seat safety belt. I did as instructed and watched while she reached into an overhead storage space for oxygen. As she did this I talked to my mother about my neice (her grandaughter's wedding the previous Saturday) the attendant muttered something about there not being any oxygen available because the container read empty.

Turning her attention back to me she said "You do realise that your mother probably cannot hear you". I replied "I do not care what your beliefs are but mine are that where there was life there was hope and if I wanted to talk to my mother, I would continue to do so because if there was any possibility that she could hear me I wanted her to know that someone cared".

Arriving at the hospital my mother was taken away and I was asked to wait in the Accident & Emergency Dept and give my mother's details to the receptionist, which I did. A considerable time passed and then a doctor called my name and asked me to go with him to a side room.

This doctor informed me that my mother had indeed suffered a stroke and that the "Team" had decided that since they could not get a clear view of my mother's brain because the bleed had been so severe, it would be cruel to my mother and my family to put her on life support. He indicated that I could use the telephone press a single digit number for an outside line and contact any family members I wished to call. I asked him if my mother was dead and he told me that basically she was, but that we would have to wait for her organs to shut down before she would actually be declared dead.

Family members arrived and my father was given basically the same information as I had been. He and my elder sister went in to view our mother, then she was taken up to a ward and put in a bed. It took approximately 3 days for mother's organs to shut down. During that time nurses popped in from time to time and made all of the suitable sympathetic noises.

However, my mother had been doubly incontinent since before she was placed in the ambulance yet, I think it was on the second day, that my sister and I started to notice that there was a very foul smell around about her bed. Trying not to attract the attention of our father and other 3 sisters and brothers-in-law & older grandchildren, we lifted the bedsheets to discover that our mother was laying in her own urine and excrement. We approached the desk, doing our very best not to let other family members know what we had discovered, because it was already distressing enough waiting around the bed for our mother to completely pass away.

The nurses came into the room and asked us to let them make our mother a little more comfortable, but my sister and knew better. Our mother had been put into the bed without an incontinance pad even though she had been doubley incontinent immediately the two ambulance attendants had administered the atropine.

Our mother was not treated with dignity by the Ambulance Crew nor the medical staff who took over her care because until we discreetly informed them that she was laying in her own urine and excrement no one even bothered to clean her while she lay between this world and the next.

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