"Distressed and worried if I or my family have to..."

About: The Great Western Hospital

What I liked

Most staff were helpful and caring.

What could be improved

I was not the patient, it was my mother, who was 93 years old with dementia and was unable to move because she was paralysed on her right side. I visited every evening to feed her, the staff were pleased with this, but I often found my mother leaning to one side and very uncomfortable. I asked if she could have more pillows (she only had one) to support her paralysed side, I was told there were none available but the bed could be raised - obviously this would not help, I would try to make her more comfortable, but often left worrying about her care. I think there are too many agency staff who are not aware of individual patient problems because they are moved around within hospital wards too frequently. One nurse came to collect Mum from the x-ray dept, thinking she was taking her to x - ray, we had to explain to her Mum had already been x-rayed and she was in the x-ray dept waiting to be returned to ward. There is never anyone available to discuss health concerns - for me this was to discuss Mum's complaint, please see further details below.

Anything else?

My mother was taken into hospital after a fall, she had many over a number of months with many hospital visits, the one before her stay in hospital in January, was in November 2011 - she arrived at around 5 pm, waited 4 hours for x rays on her hip and leg for possible breaks, she was then left waiting until after mid-night in the A&E dept. A doctor finally came in to see her and told us Mum had damaged her pelvis, nothing could be done apart from exercise - we asked the doctor how would this be possible as my mother could not walk or move her right side, the doctor told us there was nothing they could do and my mother could not stay in hospital - we took Mum home, very cold and very distressed.

The fall in January which ended with a 4 day stay in hospital, as described above under improvements, began in A & E where she had many x rays and we were advised she would be admitted. I visited Mum the next day on Saturn ward and noticed all the patients were suffering from chest complaints, I asked why Mum was in there and if I could see a doctor, I was told no doctor was available and they were not sure what was wrong with Mum. This continued for the remainder of her stay, the day before her discharge a nurse said Mum was fine and only had a bladder infection - 4 days later Mum's GP asked to see me, he told me he had received a letter from the GWH advising Mum had terminal cancer in her lungs and brain. I couldn't believe this after what I had been told when she was in hospital. Mum died 4th March, 5 weeks after her diagnosis, I still feel very distressed about the situation and worry Mum may have been in a great deal of pain for many months and after frequent hospital visits, her cancer was over-looked. I realise there was little which could be done for her, but her pain could have been eased. My mother's sister was similarly treated 12 months earlier in GWH and It seems to me, the elderly are over-looked and treated as 2nd class citizens .

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Response from The Great Western Hospital

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us. I am sorry that you felt the care provided was below the standards you would expect and you raise some important issues we would like to be able to look into in more detail. We would be happy to investigate these issues and provide a full response following discussion with the ward staff and all of those involved in your mother’s care. If you have not already done so, please email PALS.Team@gwh.nhs.uk including your mother’s name and we will investigate.

We are undertaking a large piece of work at the moment looking at how we meet the needs of patients with dementia and have recently recruited a Senior Nurse to lead this work. We will shortly be putting in place ‘Dementia Champions’ on each ward – a member of staff to share skills and expertise on caring for people with dementia with other staff and also someone who will act as a contact point for carers and relatives, so this is an area we are working hard to develop.

It is really important for patients and relatives to feel free to raise issues and complaints on the ward as they happen. This helps staff put things right there and then and the Ward Manager or Matron is available to speak to should anyone wish to discuss the care their loved one is receiving. We’ve recently made the contact information for the matron for each ward more visible and we would encourage anyone who has concerns to make contact with ward staff.

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