"Is this appropriate care of the vulnerable elderly?"

About: Armadale Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a relative),

Recently at approx. 9pm my brother rang for an ambulance to come to  Mum's home as she had suffered Chronic Diarrhoea nearly all day and we were worried about her dehydrating. Mum has suffered with this problem for several years and her doctor prescribes Lomotil on a regular basis. However this time it didn't clear up. Along with this my very elderly mum has a catheter, diabetes, heart stenosis, some memory loss, plus other health issues. ambulance admitted Mum at 11.30pm. 

At 1.30 am in the morning someone in emergency ordered a taxi, gave her a voucher and sent her home. No family were called to pick her up. She had no walking frame which she has to always use at home, no shoes, or slippers on as none were put on her at home and she is rarely without something on her feet. (That's probably remiss of my brother because they were soiled).

The taxi driver at least shone his lights on the door which was locked. Mum then skirted around the veranda, bare foot, no frame and  in the dark by then, dodging many obstacles on the quite long journey around to knock on her sleeping son's window to let her in.

I rang the hospital around 7ish later that morning to be told Mum had been discharged and I  couldn't comprehend that fact. Let alone when I went to the house and found her recounting the full story the next morning. I was blown away. I thought how the heck in this day and age could this happen to our elderly citizens.  Her Carer came to her that same day when she took ill again and attended to Mum's needs nearly all day. 

Responses

Response from Diane Barr, Executive Director, Armadale Kalamunda Group

picture of Diane Barr

Dear “My vulnerable mum”

Thank you for taking the time to write to us about your mother’s experience following her recent presentation to Armadale Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED), and I would like to firstly express how deeply sorry and disappointed I am about this.

To learn that your elderly mother was discharged home alone, in the small hours of the morning without any contact with her next-of-kin or a family member, especially with her medical history, was clearly not acceptable and should not have occurred.

For this I would like to extend my sincerest apologies and want to reassure you that this is not typical of the decisions expected of our staff. To ensure a more appropriate approach is undertaken when discharging patients from our Emergency Department, immediate actions have been undertaken by the ED Nurse Unit Manager to ensure that all requirements for a coordinated discharge, like contacting patient families and carers and assessing the most appropriate transport needs, are met. With this our ED Nurse Unit Manager is urgently reminding staff working across ED, the importance of using good communication practices when discussing discharge planning from ED with patients and their families, as well as, managing situations where next of kin are unable to be easily contacted.

Patient safety and well-being is fundamental to us, and one of our goals is to work closer with consumers and carers to improve the services we provide, to do this better we invite members of our community to come work with our staff groups. If this is something that interests you, please feel free to contact us on 9391 1153 or via email at AKG_ConsumerLiason@health.wa.gov.au.

Thank you for coming here with your feedback, it has been really valuable in helping us identify and improve in these areas and I am grateful you took the time to get in touch with us.

I apologise once again for the way we handled your mother’s discharge from our ED.

Yours sincerely

Di Barr

Executive Director

Armadale Kalamunda Group

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