"We were totally unprepared for mum's death"

About: Whiston Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as a relative),

My elderly mum who had dementia was admitted to hospital following a fall in her bedroom at the care home where she had lived for only 6 months.

She was taken to hospital in an ambulance at approximately midday and taken into A/E at her local hospital.

She was started on treatment which I presume was IV antibiotics and fluids and was also given an injection to help her breathing which was supported with oxygen therapy.

I was not with her as I was out of the country but my sister was and she tells me that she expected mum to settle overnight and be transferred to a ward the following morning. The staff asked my sister if she needed to let anyone else know mum was in hospital and she said no because it was late in the evening and she did not want to disturb any of the other family particularly as she believed mum would improve.

Mum died after only 12 hours in hospital and neither my sister nor the rest of us were alerted to the fact that she was actually being treated as end of life.

From what seemed an insignificant event of a fall with no apparent injury, she very quickly deteriorated and died in an acute setting at the age of 92 without those who loved her being there.

This has been a deeply upsetting event as we feel we were totally unprepared for mum's death and were not involved in any decision making at the end of her life.

I feel communication was poor and that professionals did not explain what they were doing for mum to the family with clarity and compassion.

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Response from Patient Experience and Engagement Lead, St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust

Dear ‘Sad daughter’

I would like to express my sincere condolences on the very sad loss of your mother.

Whilst I cannot comment here on what you have told us, we would like to speak with you to provide you with all the information you need, and an opportunity for you to ask questions to help you understand what happened to your mother.

We put our patients at the heart of everything we do and try to meet the needs of relatives and carers at the same time. We would not like you to feel that your mother was not treated properly.

If you haven’t done so already, I would ask you to contact our PALS team on 0151 430 1144 to make arrangements to speak with the team in the emergency department.

Kind regards

Patient Experience & Engagement Lead

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