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elderly in hospital

(336 Posts)
mamanC Thu 26-May-11 20:39:32

I have spent today full of anger and frustration after hearing the news of the publication of reports on the appalling treatment of the elderly in far too many NHS hospitals.

If you have never experienced such "care" can and wonder if it's all being exaggerated, can I assure you that, after 8 years negotiating the whole system of elderly care both in hospital and in Care Homes when my mother began her nightmare decline,that I witnessed first-hand what the reports are telling us now. And boy are those reports telling the truth.

I swore I would try to do something to alert people to it all after my mother died in 2006, but in fact I just turned my face to the wall I think, emotionally worn out by it all and so utterly saddened by the callousness and cruelty I witnessed.

But it suddenly occured to me today that gransnet might be just the place to ask everyone to bang the drum so loudly that we stop what is happening and offer our voice in support of those good people who work in hospitals and care homes who are trying against the odds to improve matters.Mind, if one more "manager" spouts about "issues to be adressed" and "systems are in place" I shall scream. And if anyone visiting these places notices anything which makes them feel uncomfortable, please drop the polite English demeanour and speak up.

goldengirl Thu 26-May-11 22:22:12

Oh, mamanC how I feel for you! My parents lived 200 miles away from us so I was 'caring' from a distance and it was a battle from day 1. I had to fight for them every inch of the way both to get a decent care package to keep them at home for as long as possible and proper care when they eventually had to go into hospital - an experience from which neither recovered.

I found dealing with social services, the DWP and other involved organisations an absolute nightmare - and yes, I did speak up. Part of my weaponry was to do my homework - a fact that was noted by one of the many social workers - but it certainly took its toll on my own health. Banging heads against brick walls were the order of the day. It seems that people's needs are forgotten amidst the dreadful bureaucracy. And as for communication between organisations........forget it!

The more I think about it the angrier I get, which is not productive and so I'll stop!

mamanC Fri 27-May-11 12:58:37

Oh it does help though when someone else echoes your feelings!! Thank you goldengirl!

GrandmaRos Fri 27-May-11 17:17:19

I could write a book about the appalling care that my mother has received by the so-called caring professions. My mother has been in a care home for almost five years ago, suffering from vascular dementia. About two years ago she fell in the home and broke her hip. When she was returned to the home about 6 weeks later she had a broken arm and her replacement hip had dislocated for the third time. She is unable to walk, is doubly incontinent, unable to speak coherently and doesn't recognise me. I have been unable to get any extra funding for her despite all her disabilities. In about a year's time the money from the sale of her home will run out and I guess I shall have to deal with all those faceless departments all over again and whether she will be able to stay in her care home remains to be seen.
MamanC, I understand all the anger and frustration all to well. I'm afraid I am being an ostrich and burying my head in the sand because I just can't bear to deal with these bureaucrats all over again

NanaAnna Fri 27-May-11 20:19:26

No you are not being unreasonable and sadly this has been going on for years both in hospitals and care homes. Too many nurses today are lazy, simply don't have any vocation or any concept of a duty of care. This come down to lack of basic care from nurses and so-called carers. I have first hand experience of this.

BurgundyGran Fri 27-May-11 20:24:47

My father suffered a stroke in 1999 and was hospitalised in a very old hospital a former workhouse.

We visited him and were astounded, angry and upset to see how he was treated.

He had very poor sight and was partially deaf but no one gave him his glasses or hearing aid. My younger daughter worked with the elderly and she got very angry when we were there and a porter came and just let the back rest down which meant dad went backwards very quickly and got frightened. Daughter told them there was always the option of touching dad and saying what they were about to do.

We went in another day and the floor by his bed was wet as was the bed and his pyjama jacket.The oxygen tank was leaking and fluid was flowing across to the floor and to the bed. I mentioned it to the staff nurse and a nurse appeared saying, 'what's he done now?' I said, HE hasn't done anything the oxygen tank is leaking and you should feel lucky YOU didn't slip and hurt yourself! She looked embarassed but sorted it out.

then dad complained to us about a pain in his chest. He had told the staff but apparantly nothing was done. So I told them and they said, 'Oh yes he keeps saying that!' Next they did an x-ray which resulted in a load of fluid being removed from both lungs.

However, they then decided to transfer him to a rehabilitation centre.The doctor there said he couldn't understand why he had been transfered as he was too ill with pneumonia and it was impossible anyway to rehabilitate him. Within three days dad died.

Mum was too upset to complain and wouldn't allow me to either. My younger daughter was so outraged at her grandad's treatment it was not long before she gave up her job and went back to college she had lost all confidence in the system.

mamanC Fri 27-May-11 22:17:16

Thank you all for replying. I know it is opening old wounds but I hope it helps to hear that others have been there too.

I think we all could write a book as you say GrandmaRose. One incident I would put in mine is one of those incidents that makes me cry and laugh at the same time. I went to visit my mother during one of her many stays in hospital only to find she had been moved to a different room far away from the room near the nurses' station where she had been when I last saw her.

I found her in a ward, hunched over in a chair dressed in a nappy, no trousers, with a faded raggy blanket over her knees. She was staring at the door,, straining to see (she was partially sighted), desperate for someon to come through the door. She was absolutely terrified, unable to comprehend where she was and she clung to me when I reached her. In the ward with her were two patients who were clearly dying.

I sought out the Staff Nurse (Yes, I thought a Staff Nurse would be a professional person, someone capable, someone to trust!) who told me, "I moved her because she was calling out all the time and she was driving me mad." I burst into tears. Perhaps that stopped me from quite simply hitting her. Seeing my tears, she said, and I quote her verbatim, " Come on, you're stressed. You can talk to me. I've done a Counselling course."

I've wanted to tell that story to the world ever since!! 'Tis one of soooooo many! Thank you for listening!

babyjack Fri 27-May-11 23:40:52

It's not just older people who receive poor care. My daughter broke her back 10 years ago, flat on her back in hospital, food would be left out of reach and one nurse told her to sit up!! when she replied she had a broken back and was waiting for an op she replied " are you sure dear"!!!
They x rayed her arm instead of her back which resulted in a delay of her back fracture being diagnosed. I practically lived at the hospital to ensure she was clean , fed and watered.
I have thought about private health care for my GS age 3 - Does anyone have any thoughts on this and the cost - will start a new thread I think.

supernana Sat 28-May-11 13:36:26

mamanC You speak so eloquently. I'm moved to tears. Long ago I was in hospital awaiting surgery. A very distressed elderly lady was calling out for "help" for hours on end. When I mentioned the fact that I thought that she may wish to be propped up because she appeared to be struggling to do so, I was informed that it would be a waste of time because she was an "attention-seeker". I was so disgusted by that comment and chose to sit beside her, hold her hand and stroke her hair. She remained peaceful until she eventually died in her sleep...PLEASE let us make a lot of fuss on behalf of so-called "attention seekers".

dorsetpennt Sat 28-May-11 14:38:28

All these remarks and the press about this dreadful care hits those of us who trained as nurses before 1970. Nursing took a nose dive when the old fashioned Hospital Matron was removed, also Ward Sisters as they were then. I started my nurse training in 1962 .Our training was tough, we were terrified of Matron and only a bit less of Ward Sister. The latter knew each patient and their treatment. When we started on a new ward we were expected by the end of the day to know your patient and their treatment. Ward Sister served food and noticed who had not eaten Thereby she would tell a nurse to sit and feed that patient. Bed sores were not tolerated and treated accordingly. As for MRSA that is due to dirty wards and practices. If the ward cleaner wasn't available WE cleaned the ward. Nursing has gone. Nursing now produces a degree instead of the old fashioned State Registered Nurse. I've been an inpatient and found lots that I was dis-satisfied about. I love the NHS and appreciate it, especially as I've lived in the USA, but this aspect of it is very distressing.

jennybumble Sat 28-May-11 14:40:55

I agree, sadly with all the comments about care of the elderly in hospital. I was a qualified nurse all my working life and the main thrust of my training was care with dignity. We washed patients, fed them and took them to the bathroom when needed. My mum was in hospital for 13 weeks and I was horrified at her care. She fell and in the time she was in hospital she deteriorated from an independent, car driving lady to an incontinent totally dependant lady. My sister and I had to work really really hard to get any level of care. Most of the time we weren't even listened to. the thing that made me mad was when the nurse you spoke to said "oh she is not my patient, I will get your nurse"............ I almost exploded each time.
Sorry ladies to go on but unfortunately it seems to happen to all our relatives. The worrying thing is we are all getting to that age.
I could go on and on but like a previous granny it makes me mad so I will stop.

supernana Sat 28-May-11 16:25:21

I have recalled another incident that distressed me regarding patient Non-Care. I was recovering from a hip replacement op' and the lady in the next bed had had a knee op'. She needed a bed-pan and kept calling for one. Eventually, she made so much fuss, a commode was brought to her bed...she could not stand properly and fell heavily on to the floor. From behind the curtains I could hear her cries and the angry words from the nurses stressing that she was too damned heavy to lift back on to her feet. I begged the doctor to free me from that hospital two days before I was due to be discharged. In spite of the lift being out of order, I climbed three flights of stairs to the grotty/dirty bathroom to prove that I was capable of getting into a bath. The effort nearly killed me but I was determined not to let it show. I was told that the plane that was to transport me from the hospital to a small airport near our home was unavailable for several days. No way - I thought! We then motored for almost four hours before I staggered in to our lovely wee home...and from that moment I knew for certain that I was on the mend...

mamanC Sat 28-May-11 17:40:02

Me again! Thank you to the retired nurses who have spoken because always in the back of my mind is the awareness that I am not a nurse and so I can't fully understand the difficulties from their point of view and so comments from you are particularly valuable. And i agree with everything you have said.

And as babyjack says, it is not only the elderly who are suffering. Would you believe my 24 year old daughter had her gall bladder removed in September in a Day care unit so that meant she was sent home a few hours after her operation (at closing time) drugged to the eyeballs on morphine. During her week's stay the previous month it had been noted she could not tolerate morphine and, true enough ,she had to be readmitted as an emergency that same night. She was sent home the following day only to be readmitted that night again, as an emergency. The paramedics and the A&E staff couldn't believe what was happening to her. Had her intolerance been written into her notes during her week's stay after all or did the Day Care staff fail to read her notes properly? She is still suffering stomach pains, struggling to hold down a job and complete her MA at uni. This week the hospital doctor at the hospital in the city she has moved to told her they requested from the original hospital details of a scan they had taken. That hospital has not replied. She has to go back into hospital and is terrified after her experiences of being left alone in a side ward vomitting through the night in acute pain. One nurse walked in, in the early hours, walked around the bed where my daughter was lying with her head hanging over her sick bowl,crying, checked her drip and then left, without a word.

This weekend we are trying to work out whether we can afford a private consultation for her, but where to start?

You know, someone cleverer than me, Bonhoeffer, said that it only takes good people to do nothing for evil to flourish. So as supernana says, PLEASE let's do something.

harrigran Sat 28-May-11 19:37:31

dorsetpennt, you could be me talking. I started my training in 1964 and everything you experienced was true of our hospital too. I hasten to add this was not a big teaching hospital but just an average general hospital. Infection was unheard of and yes I have cleaned floors, sinks, whatever was required.

HildaW Sat 28-May-11 20:47:32

Can always remember visiting my Mum....who had recently had surgery for her cancer. I arrived on her ward to be greated by the sight of her sat up in bed in an unstaffed multi bed ward...trying to change her soiled nightdress on her own...her tubes from various parts meant that she was stuck with the nightdress half up revealing her naked body to all. I ran to her side and pulled the curtains and sorted her out. She was a quiet uncomplaining sort with typical working class dignity who hated to make a fuss. I was heart broken by what I saw. She died a few months later in a hospice after having a week of dedicated and wonderfully gentle care lavished upon her. I cannot understand why one facility can be so completely different to the other. It was nothing to do with money because the hospice ran on a charity shoe string to the point that on each bed was a hand made patchwork quilt. My darling Mum had not wanted a cure...she knew it was not going to happen. She just wanted care and compassion.

jennybumble Sat 28-May-11 20:51:32

As grannies do you think there is anything we can do to help make a difference? As mamanC said doing nothing achieves nothing. As nurses we were always worried what would happen when us older and more experienced nurses retired, I feel so sorry for the good nurses of today, they get tarnished with the bad press as well, and they get no back up only more "elf and safety".
Where did you train harrigran? Just interested.

mamanC Sat 28-May-11 21:14:42

Mumsnet has had a lot of publicity and made the politicians nervous. I wonder if gransnet might be able to do the same and not let the recent reports (with more to come) from the Quality and Care Commission be swept under the carpet. Beware SUPERGRANS!!!!!!

P.S How do you get the smileys (and angries) onto these comments.?!

jennybumble Sat 28-May-11 21:27:39

Don't know about the smileys mamanC but have tried, someone out there must know.

nanapippa Sat 28-May-11 21:56:41

I too am a retired nurse and am sad to say nurses don't know what hard work is nowadays. I can remember when we were on night duty, before we went off duty in the mornings we (two nurses, a senior and a junior) had to do all 42 patient's temperatures, give out the teas, give out the drugs (which we both checked which ensured accuracy), wash or blanket bath all bed ridden patients, strip and make 42 beds, give any enemas prescribed and write the report before going off duty. In the night, night sister would come round and we had to stand at the foot of each bed and tell her the patient's name, age, diagnosis and all the drugs they had been given that evening. Heaven help us if we didn't know. Nowadays they don't even seem to know who their own four patients are and spend most of their time huddled round the nurses station chatting. I also feel things were so much cleaner then and we took a pride in the care. I know incredible advances have been made in the care that is required and the patients are more accurely ill as our patients used to stay in much longer but bring back that strict matron and instill a bit of pride in the care - please......

harrigran Sat 28-May-11 22:03:24

I trained at Sunderland General jennybumble but did secondments at Eye infirmary, childrens' hospital and Orthopaedic and accident hospital.
To do a smiley type a square bracket and write smile then another square bracket, don't put any spaces in.

jennybumble Sat 28-May-11 22:42:20

Thank you for smiley info harrigran smile , don't seem to have square brackets on my apple computer so can only type it in. But thanks anyway.

supernana Sun 29-May-11 12:07:09

Is there a clever Gransnetter who can think of a way to take this matter to the next level? We share and care - but we need to know how we can help to make a real difference. I am not afraid of death but I am absolutely TERRIFIED of going through the experience in a hospital. Matron was indispensible! Why did she have to go? Is there any way we can get her back where she belongs? If so, I promise to step through the hospital door (with some dignity) when I next need to. At the moment I'm terribly angry and frustrated and scared...sad

GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Sun 29-May-11 12:18:59

These are very shocking stories. If people continue to contribute, I think we should have a Gransnet campaign. We are the age group that sees this most powerfully, and it's great that some gransnetters are nurses and former nurses so can see where the problems have arisen.

supernana Sun 29-May-11 12:25:03

PLEASE let us not let this matter die a dismal death...

gkal Sun 29-May-11 13:45:11

I also trained as a registered nurse in the 1960s and things were incredibly strict. Matron and ward sisters were often highly unpleasant characters and the nurses were petrified of them. No one would want to return to that era. However patient care was mostly of a high standard although the staff were overworked. I do remember feeling very proud of my profession and we young nurses were compassionate and respectful towards our patients. Everyone from staff nurses to nursing auxiliaries got involved in the bed-pan round for example so certain less pleasant tasks were not the domain of a certain section of the staff alone.

Something seems to have gone wrong in the mid-1970s. I can pinpoint it, as I went abroad to work for a few years and when I came back, there was a different atmosphere in the hospitals where I worked. There seemed to be quite a bit of rivalry between SENs and SRNs, less team spirit, and huddles of nurses having coffee at odd times during the day. Uniforms had become the white US type ones so everyone looked the same. There were male managers instead of matrons. I do wonder what was happening around that time within the country. Were there some major policy changes in the NHS which could have caused patient care to become of secondary importance?

Like others, I am afraid of being treated with disdain when I am older and need help. I have even agreed on some kind of signal which I will give to my children should I be badly treated and unable to communicate properly (e.g. after a stroke).