"Father-in-Law's Admittance to A&E"

About: Christchurch Hospital / General medicine

(as a relative),

My father-in-law came over faint whilst shopping in Christchurch and and an ambulance was called. He is profoundly deaf and elderly. As far as we are aware no effort was made to get someone to sign to him or to interpret what was going on. In fact no-one even bothered to contact us to let us know what had happened. We have no idea what happened whilst he was there. He was discharged without any consideration as to whether he was ok at home. As it was he had to be re-admitted due to internal bleeding! We only found out that he had been in A&E after he was readmitted.

There really needs to be more deaf awareness. And also family need to be informed if an old person is taken to hospital so that we can ensure we help them on their return home. He misunderstood most of what was said to him. He was under the impression that he had colon cancer, when in actual fact he had a bleeding duodenal ulcer. There needs to be a dedicated team of signers so that important medical information is conveyed properly. If a signer is not available then instructions or information should be given in written form in a way that is easily understood and NOT in hospital speak. When he was discharged from hospital the second time, the letter was like something that Bletchley Park would have been scratching its head to decipher. He had no idea that he was supposed to go to the doctor or anything.

You have got to reassess this area of your care package. My poor father-in-law was at the point of making plans to meet his maker. Deaf people deserve to be treated as well as anyone else. Staff need to face the person they are addressing so that lip reading can take place; they need to check that the patient has understood what was said and if there is important information to be conveyed then a signer needs to be called in first.

I was appalled by his treatment.

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Response from Sue Mellor, Patient Experience Lead, Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Deaf Aware Lady

Thank you for highlighting your father-in-law's experience to us

You are absolutely right, it is very important that each patient recieves information in a manner appropriate to their individual needs.

I apologise that your father-in-law's communication needs were not met - we do aim to ensure high quality standars of care and I will ensure your comments are shared with the clinical leader and actions taken.

We do have 'signers' available so I am sorry they were not utilised for you father-in-law.

We will re-iterate the importance of appropriate communication at staff training.

Please accept our apologies to you and your father-in-law.

If you would like to discuss this further please feel free to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison team (PALS) on 01202 704886

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Update posted by Deaf Aware Lady (a relative)

Since writing this, my father-in-law had to be admitted yet again for an endoscopy and yet again there was no-one to sign for him.

The procedure went ahead even though he couldn't understand what to do. He ended up with a hideously ulcerated and infected throat. The failure to provide is inexcusable.

The poor man was terrified and was attended by a surgeon who didn't speak clearly. The staff kept shouting at him to do things. He was very traumatised by the whole episode. He has already said that if he needs another endoscopy you will have to drag him in.

I cannot believe that despite having received assurance that a signer would DEFINITELY be available, no-one bothered to tell the signer! The level of care was really bad. I feel so sorry for him.

I pray to God that he never has to go back to the Royal Bournemouth.