"My parent's ultimate demise."

About: Caboolture Hospital

(as a carer),

My dad had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). He went from being quite well, to very unwell, to well again - as they called it exacerbation of his COPD. He would be in hospital with pneumonia or other chest infections. The staff in the wards got to know him quite well as he was very personable and friendly.

Dad presented to the emergency department in early 2016 with shortness of breath and a heavy chest. X-rays revealed yet another pneumonia. He was admitted to hospital and once he was settled, Mum and I returned home.

The next morning we went back up to the ward and Dad was sitting all packed on the edge of the bed. I thought he was being stubborn and decided he was leaving, but no he had been discharged, and was just waiting on a physio review before he could go home. I went out to speak to the nurses and doctor and was told he only needed oral antibiotics, not IV so he could go home.

Physio came, stood in front of him, asked how he was, asked him how he felt, to which dad replied - I feel like crap. The physio asked him if he wanted to go home, Dad said yes. Who wouldn't want to be at home? So the physio said he was good to go. He did not get him to mobilise, stand or anything.

We got him into a wheelchair and left. During the drive some 40 minutes home, Dad seemed out of sorts and short of breath. By the time we got home, Mum and I virtually had to carry him into the house. I said I was taking him back, but dad wouldn't have it.

In the early hours of the next morning, we were awoken to thumping on the wall. I rushed in to find Dad on the floor in the bathroom bleeding from his head, his elbow and leg. He was trying to get to the toilet, but fell and then crawled to the toilet, tried to get up again and fell again.  I couldn't get him up, so called an ambulance.  Back to emergency where it was revealed he had 2 broken legs from 2 separate falls.

For the next 2 weeks he was in hospital at Caboolture with his broken legs, his chest infection and worsening COPD because he was not able to  move at all. Caboolture Hospital decided that he needed to go to rehab and offered Kilcoy as an option. We all (at the same time) said no. It was too far for mum to drive. Dad would be even more isolated. So they said they would try somewhere closer. In the late evening of the next day, after Mum and I had visited, we got a phone call from Kilcoy Hospital to let us know that he had been transferred and that he was settled in bed.  I was furious and when I confronted the doctors and nurses, was told that he had agreed to go. Dad said he never agreed and the first he knew of it was when the ambulance came to pick him up and he thought we had thought he should, so he went.  This was the night before he had a fracture clinic appointment at Redcliffe Hospital. So the next morning he then had to spend 3 hours from 7.30 am in the back of an ambulance travelling to Redcliffe and then didn't get back to Kilcoy till after 10pm. Fifteen hours on a trolley of one sort or another. He ended up with sore heels, a sore tail bone, pressure areas on his elbows and still 2 broken legs.

Move forward and after suffering Kilcoy for 6 weeks, we brought him home, wheelchair bound and very weak. He could only take small steps and stand, transfer from the bed to the chair with 2 of us helping him.

We plodded along like this for a few more months with several trips to hospital with pneumonia, but we could see that he was in decline.

Dad entered hospital again later in 2016 and while in hospital contracted hospital acquired Influenza A. He had been in hospital for about 3 weeks (didn't have the flu when he went in, but got it whilst on the ward).

He did not come home again.

I know that he was going to die, but until the point where he broke his legs, doctors were talking years, not months. When he was well he was able to get around, potter in the garden, play with his cat and go shopping. After the breaks, he couldn't do any of those things, and spent increasingly more time in hospital, then gets a flu while there and dies.

I can't help but wonder, had they kept him in hospital, would he have fallen and broken both legs. Probably not. Because he would have asked the nurses to help him. So the chain of events that led him to be in hospital and catch the flu off someone else and then have it kill him, might never have occurred.

I believe the physio didn't do his job properly and I also believe the hospital was more concerned with getting him out of Caboolture Hospital than his welfare. His overall care, depending on who was on shift, I felt was generally appalling with nurses trying to turn off his oxygen to give him nebulizers, which would result in a MET (medical emergency team) call because his saturation levels would become ridiculously low. In the last few weeks of his life, I had tried to get him into palliative care, but I believe their team decided he wasn't palliative enough to go somewhere where he could get proper care. I would have to say in my opinion most of the nurses didn't know how to care for someone with COPD, let alone someone dying of Influenza A. He was in so much pain that I had to beg the doctor to put a syringe driver in for him to give him relief in the end.  No one was with him when he died, the nurse convinced us to go home and get some rest. They called at 4am and said we should come up, they didn't say he had died and when we arrived he was laid out on the bed. All the lights on, the curtains and door wide open and not a nurse in sight - they were all in the tea room. I had to wonder around the corridor to find someone. It was a huge shock to walk into the room and find him like that, without any warning and him with no dignity.

Sorry for the long rant. I have left out a lot of other stuff which went on during Dad's stay in Caboolture Hospital. In my opinion, generally incompetent nurses who spend more time socialising and liking each other on FB than caring for their patient.

It's taken me this long to be able to write all this down. I know I should have done things differently. I wish now I had kept a close diary of events, but didn't, so I believe nothing will change. The outcome is still the same.

I can't help but wonder though, if one other person doesn't lose their Dad or Mum for that matter, then it was worth writing.

 

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