"Ward 18 is out on a limb. It does ..."

About: Luton & Dunstable Hospital

(as a relative),

What could be improved

Ward 18 is out on a limb. It does not have the same ameneties as other wards; ie a bedside radio and the opportunity of hiring a telephone and television system. There is no day room. There is no opportunity for patients to purchase a daily paper or other requirements as the WRVS does not visit the ward. It is up to visitors to provide these requirements; patients who do not receive visitors just sit staring into space as there is nothing to stimulate them. To gain entry to ward 18 from the car park is by intercom, this can often take 5-10 minutes as staff are presumably busy. It would be considerate if visitors coming direct from the car park were allowed access to the corridor outside ward 18 to shelter from the elements.

Anything else?

Why are visiting hours not standardised throughout the hospital? As patients are regularly moved from one ward to another without prior notice, visitors often find that they are not allowed into the new ward when they arrive because the visiting hours are different. No consideration is given to the visitors who may be elderly or infirm themselves and may have had a difficult journey to get there.

Protected meal times are only observed on some wards and can range from 1/2 to 1 hour duration. If evidence based research shows that protected meal times are beneficial surely they too should be standardised. At present it depends who is on duty as to whether they are observed. Patients who need feeding are often forgotten, surely visitors could help with this. I was interested to see a lady with a clipboard asking patients if they could feed themselves, or had been fed by a member of staff if they had been unable to feed themselves, the answer was always yes as the patients asked were all capable of feeding themselves. The patients who needed help with feeding were not asked, as they were confused. This of course will give a completely false outcome to your statistics. I saw one lady being fed cold potato in its jacket and baked beans which had been sitting on her bedside table for at least 20 minutes before someone came to feed her. This happened three evenings running. The patient was lying flat in the bed unable to raise herself up. Needless to say the patient did not manage more than a couple of mouthfuls. When the tea trolley came round it just passed her by, and it was up to other patients' visitors to ask for a cup to be left, and then feed her with it. Visitors should be regarded as an asset and welcomed. It can seem a very long day for a patient in hospital. Visiting is not easy with other home/work commitments and the difficulties with parking once one gets there, an officious sister can be the last straw.

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Response from Luton & Dunstable Hospital

Ward 18 is a contingency ward and quite remote from the rest of the hospital. For security entry is by intercom and your suggestion to have a sheltered waiting area is an excellent one, which we will progress. Wards 15 to 18 have visiting times from 3 to 8pm, but for relatives who cannot help with feeding, we ask that they leave for 30 to 45 minutes to allow the patients to have their meals uninterrupted. Protected meal times are a national initiative. Patients are weighed regularly and a food diary maintained for those at risk of malnutrition.

Your input is valuable as we need to work closely with friends and relatives to ensure our patients benefit. Staff have been advised that for visitors who have difficulty getting to hospital due to transport problems, they will be enabled to visit outside of the set visiting times.

Thank you for takiing the time to give constructive feedback. This is always welcome and, where appropriate, it will be acted upon.

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