"My mother's recent hospital admission"

About: Maroondah Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a relative),

Recently my elderly mother suffered a heart attack and was taken to Maroondah Hospital ED. The medical team in ED were lovely and attentive to mum's needs, however I believe this is where the help ended. Mum was admitted to a ward 24 hours later. The nursing staff were lovely and clearly very busy because I found it very hard to get any information about my mother's condition and whether it was confirmed if she indeed had suffered a heart attack. I tried numerous times to get an update on her medical status, but I was always told by the nurses that the doctors hadn't documented anything as yet. I asked twice for a social worker to see my mum before being discharged and both times I was told that the social worker is very busy, but the referral went in.

My mum lives alone and I knew that the heart attack would shake her confidence and ability to manage at home. Indeed I had already seen she was slowing down prior to the heart attack. I again tried to speak to a doctor however I was told that there were many doctors off sick and not the usual crew on, so I wouldn't be able to get terribly much information about Mum's clinical status.

Before I knew it Mum was discharged without any social worker review or OT or physio review. A few days later Mum became unwell again. She thought she was having another heart attack. So back to hospital she went. In ED there was a minor disagreement with the ward doctor and ED doctor who could not confirm whether Mum had had a heart attack from her previous admission, because I was told that the treating doctor had not yet completed his notes for Mum, so no one knew for sure whether Mum had a heart attack. This was approximately 10 days from her discharge.  This was not helpful information for my mum to hear and further destroyed her confidence.

She was admitted to a different ward where again I asked for a social worker to see Mum to help with organising home supports as she wasn't coping. No social worker visited and again Mum was discharged without any follow up for home supports. The nursing staff on this ward, continually complained, loudly I might add, how tired they were, how they had worked so many shifts and were clearly struggling. As a family member seeing my Mum become more and more frail, hearing this from the people who are there to care for her was soul destroying. It made me feel that Mum and us as a family were a burden to the nursing team.

It was incredibly difficult to get any updates for Mum in the few days she was there. Discharged home again without any follow up and just a few days later Mum had what she thought was another heart attack, but was I believe a major panic attack. Mum was seen in ED then admitted to the ward she was admitted to on her first admission, then for some reason, later transferred to a different ward.

Here she was finally seen by a social worker because it appeared obvious to the clinical team that she was anxious ++ and too scared to return home. One nurse in particular was wonderful. She asked numerous times if I was ok which is the first time in all these admissions that someone asked if we the family were ok. The medical team here have also been great, very sympathetic to Mum's concerns and anxiety. But I feel a lot of this anxiety could have been avoided if someone had listened to me about my concerns for Mum when she had her first admission. We are devastated to watch this strong independent woman decline into an anxious scared person which could have been avoided I believe if the supports were implemented.

You have many posters in the hospital asking family members to alert the medical team if we see changes in our older loved ones. I tried and had no response for the first two admissions. I felt I needed to scream to get anyone to hear my concerns. I hate complaining about hospitals and medical teams because I know you are all very busy and try your best. But this experience has left me feeling incredibly frustrated, angry, sad and grieving for my mum and what she now has to deal with as she cannot return home due to how anxious she is.

Please tell your staff to consider what they chatter about within hearing range of the patients and families. Take some time to consider that we are scared about, what is happening to our loved ones and we need to know we are being heard.  

Responses

Response from David Plunkett, Chief Executive, Eastern Health

picture of David Plunkett

Dear Care of the elderly,

I was very concerned to read your story on Patient Opinion and would like to apologise for yours and your mothers recent experiences at Maroondah Hospital. I’m sorry you were not listened to, the subsequent admissions again and also for the inappropriate staff conversations. I was pleased to read that on the most recent admission the social worker reviewed your mother and your experience was slightly better than it was previously.

Could I please ask if you can make contact with the Eastern Health Centre for Patient Experience on 1800 EASTERN or feedback@easternhealth.org.au so we can undertake a full investigation of your mother's care.

Once again, I am sorry that yours and your mother's experience fell well short of expectations and I hope we can undertake a full investigation that lead to your suggested improvements.

Kind Regards

David

Cheers

David

David Plunkett

Chief Executive

Eastern Health

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