"A&E staff clueless about dementia"

About: Solihull Hospital

We took my father into the A&E late one evening because he was very unwell and in a great deal of pain. He also has dementia, but it was shocking to find that the staff in A&E were clueless about dementia, what it's symptoms are and how to treat patients with dementia. In response to my father's erratic behaviour, the doctor pulled me to one side to ask angrily "what is going on?"! They knew nothing about dementia at all. After several hours waiting with my father, staff advised us to go home and they would keep my father in whilst they waited for test results relating to his other symptoms.

At 4.30am, we were woken to find that my father had somehow managed to find his own way home. The staff in A&E had allowed him to discharge himself despite us making it very clear that he had dementia and his behaviour was clearly not normal. It is only thanks to a kind taxi driver that my father made it home safely.

When I followed up with staff in A&E the next day to ask why no-one had called us to collect my father, the nurses told us it was normal procedure to let patients discharge themselves regardless. Unbelievable. I really hope Solihull Hospital is starting to train all it's staff on recognising the symptoms of dementia and how to treat dementia patients and that they now have a proper policy in place.

This experience is especially shocking given that the vast majority of people admitted to A&E are elderly - shouldn't medical staff understand the needs of their largest population group?

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Marie Helebert, Patient Services Officer, Patient Services, Heart of England Foundation Trust

Dear Anonymous

thank you for your post regarding your elderly father who suffers with dementia, and your experience at Solihull Hospital.

I am very sorry to read the details of your concern and what happened to your father, and would very much like to look in into this in more detail.

Can I please ask you to contact me at your convenience? Either by telephone: 0121 424 0808 or by email: marie.helebert@nhs.net so that I can gain further information to enable me to address your concern.

I do hope this is acceptable and I look forward to hearing from you.

With kind regards

Marie Helebert

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