"Poor communication after discharge from hospital"

About: St Mary's Hospital (Newport)

(as a relative),

My elderly father was recently admitted to St Marys on the Isle of Wight for a replacement hip. I had arranged a visit for a week (I live 120 miles away) in order to give my mother some practical and moral support. Dad said that the medical staff were beyond excellent and that they were caring and informative. The difficulties started when it was close to his discharge.

Mum and I were told to expect Dad to be released on the Wednesday of the week. We and I were at my parent's house when we received a telephone call on the Tuesday just as we were about to start lunch. A gentleman on the phone said that Dad was to be discharged THAT AFTERNOON and we were to get some clothes to the hospital for him and to collect his belongings. A few minutes later he called again and told me that Dad had said I would visit the local Red Cross office to pick up some items he would need and fit them prior to his arrival back home. This was the first I'd heard about this, although we were aware that some unspecified modification would need to be made to the loo - someone had earlier mentioned minor building work! At any rate both Dad and we were convinced that the items would be delivered and fitted by someone else, maybe an approved fitter (we had no idea what was involved).

The man then gave us broad details of the Red Cross location but he sounded as though he was very hurried. Finally he told us that we were to collect Dad ourselves that afternoon! I had some concerns about this and of potentially harming him (his operation wound was still sore and weeping a little), so he suggested a hospital car - to which I agreed - but since these cars didn't run beyond the afternoon we were to get to the hospital more or less immediately.

Mum was quite distressed at this set of events, being 83 and away from Dad for over a week, but we made our way to the Red Cross not knowing what items were to be collected. As it turned out the ladies there were superb and within 5 minutes we were on our way to the hospital. We picked up Dad's belongings, left some clothes and returned home. Dad later arrived in the hospital car which turned out to be smaller and quite a lit lower than ours - not good for someone with a new hip! He said it was difficult for him to get into and out of and rather painful during the ride. But the driver was very kind, supportive and helpful.

It transpired during a later conversation that someone in the hospital had told Dad that I had already OFFERED to get and fit the Red Cross materials and had OFFERED to transport him home, both of which are definitely untrue as is the story told earlier to Dad.

Dad is making brilliant progress at home. The bathroom needed no modifications at all and the items were simply a raised loo seat on a frame, a shower stool and a long shoe-horn, none of which needed specialist fitting, but no-one made that clear either to Dad or to us.

A lot of frustration and distress could have been avoided if a little more information had been given to us, particularly regarding details of the special bathroom items, and if Dad and I hadn't been played off against each other with these somewhat mendacious stories about who said what. That episode in particular has left a bad feeling.

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