"Many Questions over care of beloved relative"

About: Furness General Hospital / Older people's healthcare Furness General Hospital / Palliative medicine

(as a relative),

My Mother-in Law (MIL), suffering with ‘End Stage’ COPD was admitted to Furness General Hospital through Accident and Emergency (A&E) at the end of October 2010 accompanied by her husband (H) and youngest son (YS)

YS found A&E to be very busy to the point where staff were unable to have many of their requests acknowledged, hence lengthy waits for essential monitoring and tests causing unnecessary distress to patient, family and staff, WHY? MIL was in a heightened state of confusion which could have been avoided had one of the Family been allowed by her side, YS and H were becoming increasingly anxious and upset as neither were allowed to be with my terminally ill MIL until after a lengthy time in the waiting area YS insisted.

MIL was eventually admitted and settled onto the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) in the early hours of Saturday morning.

At approximately 10.30 the next morning. H received a phone call from a member of staff to inform and prepare him for the shock he was to receive, my MIL had fallen out of bed and sustained a nasty injury to her neck, WHY ? Upon visiting, the Family were very distressed to see the result of the fall and were becoming increasing concerned over her welfare as it seemed to them that the ward was very short staffed. WHY?

That evening MIL was transferred to Ward 6 accompanied by H, eldest son (ES) and myself, we waited quite a while in the patients lounge whilst the staff settled her in. When we were allowed to her bedside, I was very disturbed to see the call bell still in place on the wall, out of reach, WHY? I immediately placed it on the bed within reach. The Family were very reluctant to leave and shared our concerns particularly of MIL’s confusion with a nurse, who assured us they would keep a close eye on her.

Having witnessed serious failings in care afforded to my late Mother and a subsequent 3yrs to reach the end of local resolution complaint, I was, as may be expected, anxious to see this would not happen again. Whilst visiting on the third day I happened to read the Risk Assessment and was extremely concerned to read ‘No signs of confusion’ WHY? This surprised and shocked us as MIL suffered with short term memory loss and was in a constant state of confusion! I spoke to a member of staff regarding my findings and the following morning telephoned the Complaints department informing them of my concerns, arrangements were made for H and myself to meet with Elderly Care that same afternoon, our concerns were listened to, the meeting was productive, a laminate card with instructions was provided within hours and MIL was moved nearer to the nurses station as per our wishes, an investigation into the fall was also promised, as yet we have not received any feedback on this. WHY?

Unfortunately, the Family felt very uneasy and reluctant to leave MIL, we perceived the ward to very short staffed. On numerous occasions drinking needs were not met, WHY? Often we found ourselves asking for a beaker and straws as they had not been made available, this is basic care and unacceptable that needs were not met and that the Family were faced with this problem on each visit.

One evening mearly a week after MIL entered hospital there was a marked deterioration in her condition, whilst we were yet again at the nurses station requesting drinking aids! WHY? H and myself were informed MIL was very poorly, had been diagnosed with Pneumonia the previous Monday, this was the first time any of the Family had been informed of the diagnosis WHY? Therefore it was a shock to read the POTTS at 20.00hrs that evening, the last entry of observations was 13.00hrs. Would 8hrs plus seems a lengthy interval for a patient in such a poorly condition? WHY? At the end of visiting, we tried to raise our concerns with the staff unfortunately they appeared to be in the depth of an emergency situation on one of the bays, we lingered for quite a while in the hope of speaking to someone, we felt very uneasy and anxious at having to wait 18 hours until the next visiting time. The emergency situation continued so we reluctantly made our way home with the family deciding to ring the ward first thing the following day to arrange a morning visit, sadly MIL passed away in the early hours without her family around her. WHY?

The next distressing event was for the Family to be told there was no one available to accompany us to the Viewing Room for 24hours despite being told on our first visit we would be welcome to visit with 30mins notice.

Why were the Family not offered the services of the multidisciplinary palliative care team? As per Nice Clinical Guidance, according to Doctor Foster hospital guide the Trust does provide a palliative care service.

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Response from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for posting a comment on our services. We are sorry that your mother in law did not receive the care you expected. We are additionally sorry for our slow response to your comment, which is due to an email alert error. We have been working on improving patient environment on wards and ensuring that falls do not happen. If you would like to discuss the changes we have made to our services since your comment, please call our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01539 795497.