"Lack of care or consideration"

About: Forth Valley Royal Hospital / Clinical assessment unit

(as a carer),

My mum was having trouble with her eyesight and our very helpful optician referred her to the Eye Hospital at the old Falkirk Hospital. All the staff there were great - very friendly and caring, and explanations were clear. So far so good....

Then the Eye hospital doctor broke the news that they suspected mum had had a stroke and they were arranging for her to be admitted to FVRH for tests and treatment. We were told to go to FVRH Clinical Assessment Unit straight away and warned that she may need to stay in over night.

When we arrived at the CAU, the staff were at very brusque in the way we were received. I know they are busy but a smile and a pleasantry doesn't take that long! No indication of waiting time or even what we should expect to happen.

The doctors Mum saw during her stay were all friendly and approachable, but everything was quite vague. The nurses were curt, rude and bad-tempered with only a couple of exceptions - notably the night nurses and a couple of others, inc a student nurse. 

Mum has been left with a large blind spot area in both eyes and her remaining vision is very distorted, eg making things look further away or closer to her than they are.

After 3 nights in the CAU, a doctor on the morning rounds told mum that she would be staying in probably until Friday and would be moved to a ward asap. The doctors wanted her to be seen and assessed by the stroke team and they wanted her to work with the physios to improve her walking / balance before she went home so she phoned me and asked me to bring more things in for her. About 3 hrs later she phoned again and said "can you come and get me I'm being sent home."

Someone from the stroke team had seen her and told her that "hospital beds are for sick people" and asked mum to give them "good reasons for why she should stay in hospital". Mum wasn't there out of choice! She had been told she had to stay by a doctor! She was quite confused by the whole situation. She asked about rehab and was told that we'd have to organise that ourselves! We were already being seen by the ReACH team for another issue, so the hospital wouldn't refer her as we could just sort it out ourselves. She wasn't given any helpful information at all.

A physio came to see her in the CAU. By this time Mum had been put out of her cubicle and so the consultation took place in the waiting area surrounded by other patients... what privacy? She was sent home with a zimmer frame to use upstairs at night to help with her balance but that's all.

That's it - sent home!

I'm her carer (which had been made clear on admission and to all the doctors). Under the Carers Act, the hospital has a duty to involve me in the discharge planning and to explain to me what is happening and what I can do to help / look after my mum. I was given no information, involved in no conversation regarding after care and what happens next. It's a total disgrace.

By the time I arrived at the CAU to collect mum she had already left for the discharge lounge. She was sent home with 3 lots of drugs - only 2 of which she had been told to take, the 3rd ones were a mystery. No one in the discharge lounge was able to help and when I asked to speak to someone to find out what aftercare would be happening and what I should expect and be on the lookout for, the staff in the discharge lounge just said they couldn't help with that, it should have been dealt with on the ward before she left.

For the record, almost 2 weeks later and I've just managed to speak to a member of ReACH instead of an office answer phone and we'll have to wait until the end of the month before anyone can come out to see mum because we "haven't been referred to them in the proper way - the hospital should have referred us even though we are on their books as it's a change in circumstances". I still haven't managed to get anywhere with a physio and social services have disappeared. We are totally on our own.

This has been such a stressful experience, it's having a huge impact on my health now too and it has become a source of anxiety for my mum that need not be there. A bad experience both for the patient and the carer. Very little care or consideration shown at all.

I urge FVRH to familiarise themselves with the Carers Act. Unpaid carers save the NHS a fortune every year - don't abuse us by just ignoring us and expecting us to just work everything out for ourselves.

Responses

Response from Jason Graham, Clinical manager, Emergency Care, NHS Forth Valley

Dear beejay71

I am sorry this was your Mothers experience in CAU. I am sorry that the discharge arrangements were not coordinated properly and have caused additional stress and inconvenience.

I would like to investigate this more fully to ensure that we don't make these mistakes again.

Please contact our patient relations department with more details or feel free to email me on jasongraham@nhs.net

kind regards

Jason Graham

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Response from Patrick Rafferty, Head of Nursing, Medical Directorate, NHS Forth Valley

Dear beejay71

Thank you for taking the time to get in touch to tell us your story.

Firstly may I take this opportunity to sincerely apologise for the experience you and your mum have had through her journey of care. What you describe does not meet the standards of care I would expect with regards to compassionate person centred care. There are a number of things that you mention in your story that cause me concern and I would really appreciate the opportunity to look into your experience.

I agree wholeheartedly with your comments regarding involving carers in discharge planning, and am committed to supporting the Carers Act within NHS Forth Valley, and would be happy to discuss this.

I remain concerned that your mum has been discharged from hospital and you do not have a plan in place. I would like to discuss this with you and look at what we can do to ensure you and your mum have the right support and information to help with her recovery at home.

If possible can I please ask you to contact me on 01324 567948, or you can email me at Patrick.rafferty@nhs.net

Kindest regards

Patrick Rafferty

Head of Nursing

NHS Forth Valley

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