My dad was admitted to D3 Royal Blackburn Hospital in September. I could write a book about his ‘care’ and treatment from the NHS since June last year, but am not going into detail at this point as I do not wish to prejudice any future investigations. However I have read other reports about this ward and feel I have to add my views.
My dad was told that his condition was progressive and that there was nothing more medically to be done. Looking back I believe he was then ‘written off’. In late Oct we were told he could be discharged and arranged nursing care. A nurse told us she would do his continuing health care form but that it was ‘a big job’ and she couldn’t promise to do it quickly – three weeks later, after some pushing from us, it was done.
In that time my dad was in bed, catheterised, often without pyjama trousers, often wearing hospital issue pyjama tops, whilst having at least 4 pairs of his own in his cupboard. He would tell us he was cold but daren’t ask for extra blankets because he was made to feel like a nuisance. He told me there was one nurse he really didn’t like but wouldn’t tell me who or why because he was afraid what might happen when we weren’t there.
One day, as he was falling asleep I gave him a pot to put his bottom teeth in as they were falling out. I left the pot on his cabinet. A few days later he began to complain about not enjoying his food, I asked him where his teeth where – he didn’t know. I found the teeth, in the pot without water, at the back of his drawer – now my dad was bed bound so he couldn’t have put them there, nor could he get out of bed to find them. I left them on his table. The next day they had disappeared.
My mother, my brothers and myself asked staff on at least five occasions to look for them – dad was at this point having difficulty eating and wasn’t enjoying his food – coincidence? – not according to the staff on D3, some of whom thought the loss of teeth was funny. At no time did anyone ever attempt to find them, fobbing us off with ‘we can’t do anything at weekend’! At the end of my tether at what I was beginning to believe was neglect I emailed the Chief Executive -the teeth appeared the next day – coincidence? They were on the ward all along in a pot marked ‘lost teeth’. Disgraceful. They probably would still be there if I hadn’t sent that email.
My dad had his own nivea shaver but was shaved with a cheap disposable razor – no one ever bothered to take his own razor out of the drawer for him and give it him to shave himself.
His care plan mentioned spiritual needs – no one bothered to ask him about these, despite my mum asking for a priest to visit on the day he was admitted. We eventually found the priest who told us that as staff don’t have faith themselves they often disregard patients faith and spiritual needs – that is wrong and just further confirms my belief that patients coming to the end of their life are not seen as individuals to be cared for and respected.
We finally managed to reach a day for discharge – it was a fiasco and very traumatic. Dad was ill and it was touch and go whether he would be discharged. We arrived at 2pm to find him on a stretcher with ambulance crew ready to take him to the nursing home. I went with him. He does not remember much about the journey but he does remember a quite distressing part of it, which at the time, being in a daze as we were literally pushed off the ward, I had not noticed he had no trousers on, or not even socks to keep his feet warm. My 85 year father was discharged from ward D3 and sent halfway across town in November without trousers or socks and just a blanket covering him. He was neglected, his basic care needs were not addressed, his dignity was disregarded, all because someone could not be bothered.
My dad does not remember the journey, but he does remember and is very aware that he has been left without trousers very often whilst on ward D3. This distresses him, he thought it was because he had no clean clothes, and is now constantly asking us where his clean trousers are.
Thankfully we got dad out of that ward. He is now in a nursing home where he is getting real care by people who really do care about him. For the first time in a lot of weeks I have peace of mind when I leave him, knowing he will be helped to eat and drink if needed – not left to starve and dehydrate if he can’t do it himself, that he can ask for anything he wants without fear of being made to feel a nuisance, and most importantly that he has peace of mind.
My dad is an intelligent, very tolerant man, with an extremely heightened sense of justice and fair play. He is not one to complain loudly, and is of a generation which believed nurses and doctors were authority figures. In recent months his body has begun to let him down, but his mind remained as sharp as ever – he has battled to keep it that way, but his care on Ward D3 has contributed to distress and confusion.
I believe that had we not moved dad to a nursing home when we did, he would have died on ward D3 in the last few days.
I intend to pursue my complaints about D3 for the sake of other patients who may not have anyone to speak up for them. My daughter overheard two staff discussing a patient who had been readmitted – ‘oh for **** sake, he’s back. He gets on my bloody nerves’. Would you want to be cared for by them? I know I wouldn’t.