"Communication with Families"

About: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

(as a carer),

I rang the hospital about my parent. The patient is elderly has dementia, was anxious about being taken to hospital and can't speak logically to me on the phone. The staff member on the switchboard told me that the ward staff would not accept calls before 9am realistically. Most people's jobs start at 9am.

There were two nurses present in the room where my relative was though .

It was my relatives first morning in hospital after being admitted the night before.

I understand nurses are busy at this time of day, but by banning contact or communication with nursing staff, it added to mine and my family members distress.

In my opinion, the practice of deferring talking to relatives is putting the needs of the staff first, focusing on discharges, getting work done, not focusing on the individual  patients or the family's need. I think blanket rules for phone call times need to be reconsidered in some circumstances.

Responses

Response from Marika Spaseska, Senior Project Officer Patient Opinion, Strategy and Executive Services, North Metropolitan Health Service We have made a change

Dear A Carer,

Thank you very much for sharing your concerns regarding the difficulties you have experienced in trying to contact your family member while they were a patient at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Having a family member in hospital is a very stressful situation, especially at this time of the year and I am sorry that the lack of timely communication has contributed to your family’s distress.

As you have reflected, in your Patient Opinion post, mornings on the wards are a very busy time for staff however the SCGH motto of “We put patients first” means that we must make time to provide feedback to both patients and their families about their condition and treatment plan.

Following the concerns that you have raised we have reviewed the practices across each of our wards and have found that there is an inconsistent approach regarding when calls can be put through to the wards. In response to this we have issued the following communication to the switchboard and ward staff.

All calls from carers/family members are to be directed to the patient’s bedside telephone in the first instance. If the patient is not well enough to answer their telephone or is not currently in the room the switchboard should direct the call to the relevant ward or department if requested to do so.

We will continue to follow up on this going forward to make sure that communication with carers/family members is timely.

I hope that the remainder of your family members experience of care at SCGH is positive and that their condition improves.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.

Kind regards,

Dr Theresa Marshall, Director of Safety, Quality and Performance

Sir Charles Gairdner and Osborne Park Health Care Group

On behalf of

Tony Dolan

Executive Director

Sir Charles Gairdner and Osborne Park Health Care Group

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