"The loss of my parent and complaints not listened to"

About: Murray District Hospital / General medicine

(as a carer),

In mid-2016 my mother was admitted to a hospital with what was eventually found to be a seizure, at this point in time she also had early onset Dementia, believed to be Alzheimer's.

Many months in hospitals due to the lack of support for both herself and my father as her primary carer, and miscommunications saw her eventually classified as a NHTP (Nursing Home Type Patient) in hospital awaiting placement.

At this point my father and I would like, however to acknowledge that although a lot of problems did occur at other hospitals in WA, within the earlier stages of admittance, and this is noted in all of our complaints, that both hospitals, have been active in their acknowledgements for failures in their systems, and have worked tirelessly since to bring changes, educate staff and patients, which we applaud their efforts in continued commitment.

By late 2016 my mum had gone from a category 0-1 to 4 just basically being in hospital, and was transferred to Murray Districts Hospital, as an NHTP. Just after Christmas she fell, the hospital did not agree with, and ignored a lot of our concerns, slighting it was just her Dementia. Upon asking about whom to complain to, we felt we were threatened by a senior staff member of the hospital.

Deeply concerned about my mother's state of health, she could no longer walk or talk, and knowing that classed as an NHTP, we believed care would not be given at the same level of care as an inpatient. A complaint was then lodged with who is now the former Health Minister.

With still not a lot of help, my mum was transferred to a nursing home. On that admittance in late January they recognised she was totally dehydrated, and immediately transferred her to another hospital. After a week of treatment for her dehydration, her organs were starting to shut down, she was drowning and we watched her die over 3 and 1/2 weeks.

We wrote to the new Health Minister, about our concerns - how and why this could happen? Why they would not listen and re-class her category to an inpatient? The want that this situation not happen again and what learning and education could come from this to ensure it never happened again. The minister was compassionate, but the correspondence at the time did not fully satisfy us. However we were encouraged by him to put in a complaint to HaSCO (Health and Disability Services Complaints Office) for a full investigation. In April 2017 the submission was put into HaSCO highly detailing what we wanted out of the complaint. Another email in reply to an email from HaSCO in September 2017 then brought to the investigators attention new research information my father and I had discovered which was relevant to the case and phone calls between my father and the investigator explaining we were more than happy to have meetings with the investigator to discuss this complaint, which I might add they never took up the offer.

Finally a letter in response to our complaint arrived in February 2018, with still mostly unanswered questions and still not even a written apology from this hospital. 

My father and I wrote yet another request to investigate our complaint, with again more informative information relevant to the complaint, with clear questions and what we wanted out of this investigation.

My father and I want an explanation, change, education and a written apology, we now have another letter dated in March 2018, but still not, the answers or apology we asked for.

We are totally devastated that we feel ignored and it is more than likely a lot of other patients could be put in the same position, and have the same outcome from preventable errors in basic care. We felt it was also an opportunity for the system to look at NHTP and if it is appropriate in its current form.

The responses we have received by HaSCO we believe are not worth the paper they were written on, were highly inappropriate in answering our questions, with most of the content generic and the letters totally ignoring what we were asking.

My father and I have spent many hours putting together the complaint, with as much informative information and clear questions that need answers. But we feel we are no closer to a resolution in this matter than we were back in March 2017, which is shortly after my mother's untimely death in February 2017.

Responses

Response from Kath Smith, Executive Director, Rockingham Peel Group, South Metropolitan Health Service

picture of Kath Smith

Dear devastated daughter,

Thank you for taking the time to share your story; firstly I would like to pass on my sincere condolences to you and your Father on the loss of your Mother and to say I am saddened to hear of your experience of our hospital, it sounds as if it has been a very difficult time for you both. I was particularly troubled to hear that you felt threatened by a particular staff member at Murray District Hospital (MDH) and that you still feel your questions and concerns have not been answered. I would like to clarify that the classification of Nursing Home Type Patient is documented once patients are deemed stable enough for transfer to a nursing home and is primarily used for accounting purposes, it does not determine the level of care for patients and these patients continue to receive care from medical, nursing and allied health professionals as inpatients for the duration of their admission.

At MDH, we ensure all patients are assessed on a daily basis to determine whether additional carers are required. We have also implemented the use of high contrast colours in bathrooms and toilets in order to aid patients with dementia in assisting them with recognition and positioning.

We have strong links to Alzheimer’s Australia who regularly visit MDH to provide support, information, counselling and staff education. Staff endeavour to provide our patients with excellent care and service and again I apologise that your mother did not receive the level of care you expected whilst she was at MDH.

Finally I want to reassure you Rockingham Peel Group welcomes all feedback and uses such information to continually improve the care provided to our patients.

Kind regards,

Kath Smith

Executive Director

Rockingham Peel Group

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