"My dad's care during his last days"

About: Albany Health Campus

(as a relative),

Dad had dementia and my mum had been managing him for years at home. He increasingly became too much for mum who was nearing 80 herself. He was verbally and physically aggressive to her, plus she managed urine and feaces incontinence with wandering. She was exhausted! We all tried to help, but he had to go into Albany Hospital. He was there for some time where his conditioned worsened as on a busy ward his dementia worsened with delirium. The first night there we spent 5 hours settling Dad in for Mum to only receive a phone call during the night that she had to come back as they couldn't handle him.

When Mum arrived she found they had moved him at 2 am in the morning to a 2 bed ward as they needed his single room. Dad had been fine, but waking him up and shifting him just sent him into a confused rage. Everyone knew he had dementia, but still they did that to him. He continued to become more aggressive and within the morning they had to shift him into another room..... yes a different single room.  This one had a blind that could not be opened. He had no idea if it was day or nigh,t which just added to his confusion. Every day, every shift, each nurse would tell us the same thing ... how busy they are and how many other patients they had. Often Mum was told she would have to change him as they had no time. With the right approach Dad could be showered, but the norm was someone would fly in and say - time for a shower - he would refuse - nurse then says how she can't force people and leaves room. Dad rarely had a shower.

I don't want to paint the picture all the nurses seem uncaring, but they all seemed so rushed and that Dad was a burden to them. One morning one senior nurse, in my opinion, went onto a rant at my Mum telling her she didn't have time to change my Dad and told Mum she would have to do it herself. My mum is a very quiet, proud person that doesn't ask for help.   Mum rang me in tears, saying she thought she should take him home as maybe she could cope, as not fair on the nurses as they have too much to do. I felt so sad that Mum had struggled for so long and did her best and was at breaking point and when finally she should have been getting her respite, she was being made to feel guilty.  

As a family we felt powerless to the point that we never complained as it felt non-one really cared and there would be no point. The only exception to all the chaos was an amazing male nursing assistant that gave our Dad and our family a sense that someone did care. He treated Dad with such respect that it bought us to tears. He took the time just to talk to us and be in the moment. Not once did he tell us about his busy workload. When he was with us we felt connected, we felt listened to and just genuine care.   We shall forever be so grateful for his care. Unfortunately we only saw this staff member for 3 or 4 days as he then went on leave and we went back to being part of the ward chaos.  

It became worse with Dad's lack of care. His morning meal tray would be put in front of him and due to his dementia he didn't really know what to do with it. Mum would arrive at 11 am to find food spread all over the room.   Repeatedly we asked if the tray could be placed away until someone could help him....but it never happened.   He developed a bed sore as we think his nappy not changed. After six weeks he deteriorated and he died.  

My Dad was a proud private man and if he had known how his ending of life would be, he would have been so embarrassed and mortified that he caused any work to anyone. He never spent any of his life in hospital and had been an active giving community member. Dementia is soul destroying for the families, but what made it worse for us is the Albany Hospital may as well   put up a sign saying we don't want difficult dementia patients.

Immediately the pressure was on Mum to get him in a nursing home and   they even suggested they put him in Mt Barker where we live in Albany.     We are forever grateful for the kindness shown to us by the male nursing assistant. We feel no anger to the Albany Hospital or the staff as they were genuinely overworked, but all l ask is if staff reflect ... if their dad had dementia - how would they like him treated? No-one asks to have dementia as it can take away a loving person and replaces them with an angry aggressive person that we don't know, but we still call him Dad.  

What I really struggle with is seeing a campaign by the Albany Hospital about how they care and the wonderful service and patient focus ... it feels to me like it's all just lies. The system is over stretched and it only sets up patients with false expectations. At the beginning you ask how we felt...  insufficient, powerless in a big system and just sad that this is how we treat our dementia patients.     RIP Dad xxxxx

Responses

Response from Marie Young, Quality and Service Reform project officer, Albany Health Campus, WACHS Great Southern

Dear Bellblue

I would firstly like to offer you, your Mum and your family my sincere condolences on the passing of your dad and to thank you for sharing your story with us.

Your story was a difficult story to read and I am unreservedly sorry that we let your dad and your family down.

With the exception of the ‘amazing’ male nursing assistant that you kindly mention, the experiences that you have shared with us are not those that we would want any patient or family member to experience and for this, I genuinely apologise.

If you would be willing, I would really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you personally to listen and to learn from the circumstances surrounding the care and treatment of your dad, so that what happened to your dad and your family does not happen to another person and their family.

If you would call 9892 2647 to arrange a time suitable to talk I would be most grateful.

Regards

Juan Clark

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Response from Marie Young, Quality and Service Reform project officer, Albany Health Campus, WACHS Great Southern

Dear Bellblue

As we responded previously, your feedback is something we take very seriously. We would be most appreciative of the opportunity to speak with you personally to avoid this happening to others.

If you would call 9892 2647 to arrange a time to talk I would be most grateful.

Regards

Juan Clark

Operations Manager, AHC

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Response from Marie Young, Quality and Service Reform project officer, Albany Health Campus, WACHS Great Southern

Dear Bellblue

We very much appreciate your feedback and respect your choice to remain anonymous.

We now have in place a number of initiatives for cognitively impaired patients in our care:

Introduction of a ‘Cognitive Champion’ to constantly improve how we care for people with dementia. An alert system to reduce bed moves within the hospital for people with dementia volunteers to provide support for people with dementia during their hospital stay Continuous education, training, support and policies in caring for people with dementia

As a service, we value and respond to feedback by making service improvements and hope that you and your family take some relief in that fact.

Juan Clark

Operations Manager AHC

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