"Very caring staff, but could possibly have been clearer about my father's prognosis"

About: St James's University Hospital / Older people's healthcare

(as a relative),

My father was recently admitted to St James's, having been transferred there from his nursing home. He had lost a lot of weight, was weak and dehydrated. He was swiftly moved to ward 16 where he seemed to be very well looked after.

When my father's condition deteriorated, the family was contacted so someone could be with him as he neared his end. The nurse who spoke to me on the phone was very kind and caring but she only described symptoms and the hospital's actions rather than being clear about the fact that he was unlikely to survive more than a couple of hours. Fortunately my job has put me in a position where I speak with senior nurses regularly, including about issues like this - so I understood what to expect when I got the the hospital. I am concerned that someone who has less experience of communicating with hospitals might not have properly understood the severity of Dad's situation.

Unfortunately I had a long and slow drive to get to the hospital (Manchester to Leeds in rush-hour traffic) and Dad had died before I was able to get to him (other family members had got there more quickly). Because of my knowledge, I was prepared for the sad news when I did arrive and again, the nursing staff were very caring and keen to ensure that I was OK. I am concerned that someone who did not understand the implications of the symptoms as described (and actions taken) might have had a very difficult shock when they arrived.

I believe that the hospital I work with most closely through my job did some research with relatives about end of life care and the strong message from this was that if people are told things like 'He's very ill and we've had to move him onto x course of treatment' they tend to assume that there's still a strong chance of recovery whereas if they were told that the person was not expected to recover and may only last a few more hours, this helped the relatives to prepare for the death. I wonder if this is something that has been considered at St James's.

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Response from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Dear Petif6

Thank you for taking the time to post these comments on the website. It is valuable feedback for us and in the cirumstances especially we very much appreciate you taking the time and effort to do this.

If you would like to discuss the issues in person, and confidentially, you can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 0113 2067168 or email patient.relations@leedsth.nhs.uk

Thank you once again.