"Some of the staff were lovely, but not all were"

About: Cowal Community Hospital (formerly Dunoon General)

(as a relative),

My husband passed away last month, spending his final days in Dunoon Hospital.

Whilst some of the staff were lovely, caring people, kindness itself, not all staff were.

My husband needed a bottle, I buzzed for staff and when they came they started to speak to my husband. This was fine. However, I explained I had buzzed as he needed a bottle to which the response was that he had not asked for one.

The door on his room banged shut if it was left to swing closed by itself. This startled my husband each time to the point that if I was with him I would try and catch the door before it banged whenever someone came in or left the room. Someone even said the door needed to be reported to the maintenance people to stop it from banging shut. I said it did not bang if it was closed manually. When staff came in the next time, they made a great show of closing the door and not letting it bang shut. It made me feel as if I was causing a fuss over nothing.

On another occasion, a doctor had come in to see my husband. My daughter was with me at the time, with other staff also present. After the doctor had checked my husband and spoken to him, he went to speak to the other staff and said that he may not be in for a few days as he felt he was coming down with flu. My daughter overheard this and was concerned as her father was so frail. After the doctor had left, she asked staff if the room should perhaps be sprayed to lower the risk of infection. Action was taken, but with a lack of grace which left my daughter at a loss for words, although it was acknowledged (the following day) that my daughter had been right.

When my husband did pass away, I felt that staff kept asking me questions. Surely this could have waited? I asked what would happen next. I was told a porter would put the body in a body bag and take it to the morgue. I felt this was so insensitive. Surely there are less brutal ways of explaining what would happen?

As I said, some of the staff were wonderful and lovely and I am grateful for their treatment of both my husband and myself.

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Response from Maimie Thompson, Head of Public Relations and Engagement, Chief Executive's Office, NHS Highland

picture of Maimie Thompson

Dear Cowal1

I am so sorry to hear about your husband and appreciate that this must be such a difficult and sad time for you all.

Its because we know how tough things are that its all the more distressing to receive such very mixed feed-back about some of the care and attitudes you received. There is only one chance for us to support people to get the end of life care right and dignity, compassion, respect and attention to detail should never be optional extras. We know in terms of the grieving process the dreadful pain of losing a loved one can be eased a little by knowing that everyone was kind and caring and di their best. Its obvious from your what you have written that where staff were kind this did made a big difference. Other elements of your experience are simply not good enough and its an extremely upsetting read and I apologise unreservedly

I have passed your feed back to Liz Higgins who is our lead nurse covering Argyll and Bute and asked her to look into this. I wondered what else you might wish me to do or anyone you would like to speak to.

Please have a think and get back to me at your convenience maimie.thompson@nhs.net 01463 704722

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