"My mother has dementia, she's not 'daft'"

About: Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust / Patient transport service

(as a carer),

My mother has severe disabilities, including dementia. We were collected by the transport ambulance, from Winterbourne. My mum had an appointment at Bristol Eye Hospital, and I was going with her as a carer, to help her.

The driver seemed nice to us, but when we collected the next passenger, I was shcoked! The next passenger asked if she could bring a carer with her, but the driver told her she wasn't allowed, saying that you aren't allowed a carer unless you're "blind, deaf or daft".

Everyone seemed to find this funny - even the new passenger laughed.

I was so upset by this. It seemed so insensitive - even cruel! As a carer for my mother, who has dementia and is very unwell, this was devastating. I supposed she thinks my mother is one of these 'daft' people. What a terrible way to speak.

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Response from Patrick Mulcahy, Head of Clinical Development, Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Dear Jester 388

Thank you for taking the time to comment on your recent experience of our service and the language used by our members of staff is totally inappropriate. I would encourage you to formally contact the trust via our official complaints procedure through our website www.gwas.nhs.uk/get-in-touch.htm or by calling our Complaints Team on 01249 858500.

I would like to reassure you that we take dementia care very seriously and over the last year we have undertaken a number of pieces of work to improve our staff’s understanding of the caring for people with dementia. This has included an information leaflet being sent to all clinical staff, an on-line learning resource being made available which covers the problems of the dementia suffer in some detail and we are continuing to develop awareness and training options as part of the national Strategy “ Living Well With Dementia”

Of course none of this is of use if we fail when we meet patients and careers, which is why I would like to investigate this matter further, and I hope you will feel able to contact us.

I am also sure that my colleague within the Patient Transport Service will respond to your posting in due course

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Response from Anthony Gerrard, Operations Manager for PTS, Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust

I would very much like to support the view of my colleague who has already responded to you. From the details you have given comments of this nature would be totally unacceptable under any circumstance. If you would like us to investigate the matter further then I would also encourage you to contact us in order that we may be able to look into it. Thank you for raising your concerns through Patient Opinion.

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