"Improvements Required for Rochester East"

My Mum was in the Rochester East Ward for rehabilitation, and I must say that I think it was forgotten that she had other underlying health issues, which I feel were not properly attended to. The food provided, was of a poor quality, and many elderly patients want plain food, which equated to a scoop of mashed potateos. No provisons are made to enable family to heat up alternative meals on site. The staff on many occasions did not respond to the alarm buttons when pressed by patients. The physio was virtually non existant, and walking a patient to the toilet a few times a day was inadequate - more one on one sessions should be provided to ensure patients are completing exercises properly. The whole atmosphere on the ward was depressing, and the TV area not comfortable to attract patients to the area, for them then to interact with each other. Some nusres were more friendly and attentive than others, but the problem would have been night staff, who could treat patients as they wanted, as there was no one around to keep a check on them. My Mum had COPD, and when a doctor was called on her last day at that hospital, I attended and was there from 7.30am and a doctor did not appear until 12.30pm! The attitude of the doctor was that she could stay there for the weekend and they would check her again on Monday, as there are no doctors present. We opted for Mum to be transferred back to UCLH, for better care, and for a doctor to be on call, and in my opinion, better medically trained nurses. Overall, my Mum became depressed at being on this ward for a short time, approximately 10 days, that we were arranging an early discharge for her, and a care package to be in place to get her home. Unfotunately, my Mum did not get to go home, and passed away 4 days after leaving St Pancras at the UCLH, where she was treated with dignity and respect.

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Response from St Pancras Hospital

May I start by offering my sincere condolences on the loss of your mother. I was very sorry to read your concerns about her time with us on Rochester East Ward. What you have described does not indicate that your mother was treated to the standard we expect for our patients. I was particularly concerned to read that you felt your mother's health issues were not attended promptly to. Each patient's therapy requirements, including physiotherapy, are planned and scheduled during their time with us based on a full assessment of their needs and their ability to tolerate that therapeutic activity. Although our services are nurse led we have a large therapy and medical team so it’s disappointing to read that you felt the physiotherapists were non-existent and that you had to wait so long for your mother to be medically reviewed. For your assurance we have access to on-call medical teams 24 hours a day and at the weekend, we also have therapy staff that work 7 days a week. We really do value feedback from patients and relatives and use this to improve our services. Overall we have received positive responses about the quality of food we serve our patients so I am sorry to read you found our meal options so poor. Unfortunately we are unable to provide facilities for families to heat up meals they have brought in as we are restricted for food safety and hygiene reasons. The response rate to call bells is something we constantly monitor and we work hard to make sure that, as a minimum, 90% to be answered within two minutes so it is disappointing to read that our staff failed to respond to your mother promptly during her time with us. I was very concerned to read what you've described about some staff on night duty and it would be very useful to hear if you have specific incidents that I can investigate. I can assure you that we have senior nursing staff on site 24 hours a day including throughout the night. Myself and other senior managers within CNWL Camden regularly visit wards unannounced at night time to check on standards of care. It was disappointing to read that your mother found the atmosphere on the ward depressing. You have not indicated when your mother was a patient with us on Rochester East. You may not be aware that the unit is now undergoing a significant refurbishment programme which is due to complete in December 2014. This includes a complete ward redecoration; new bedside curtains and blinds, use of colour and visual aids to support our patients' who have dementia and artwork which was created by our staff. We also recently appointed a Patient Experience Manager who has developed programme of activities to make our patient's stay as enjoyable as possible including chair dancing, visiting musicians, bingo, pet therapy visits and a film club. A team of volunteers offer patient befriending services and a reading service. We also have a new DVD library and a trolley shop. We are delighted that a music therapist will shortly be joining our team. We have let you and your family down during your mother's time with us and this is not acceptable, I am sorry. If you felt able I would really appreciate it if you could meet with the team so they can hear first hand about your experiences and to let us investigate the specifics of your concerns. We would also be delighted to take that opportunity to show you some of the recent improvements and get your views on what else we can do to improve the environment and standard of care on the unit. If you would like to discuss further or arrange a meeting with the team at the unit, you can contact me directly on 020 7685 5806. Graeme Caul Borough Director CNWL Camden

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