"Issues on the ward"

About: Armadale Hospital / Colyer Surgical & Medical Ward Armadale Hospital / Emergency Department Armadale Hospital / Medical Admissions Unit

(as a relative),

My elderly mother presented to Armadale Hospital Emergency Department recently with difficulty breathing. She had been diagnosed with a chest infection 4 days earlier but deteriorated over the following days. After seeing your staff in emergency, she was then diagnosed with viral bronchitis. She spent 3 days in the MAU ward before being transferred to the Colyer Ward on the third day. She was discharged the following day.

I would like to make some comments regarding her stay.

The treatment by all staff in emergency was exemplary and she was made to feel comfortable and informed. She was treated with respect in all dealings with the doctors, nurses and other staff.

Once in the MAU ward, things went downhill.

• The patient next to her played music quite loudly and was not asked to adjust the volume until quite late into the evening.

• The telephone caused quite a lot of angst. The cord is too short to reach anywhere near the bed or bedside table. The ringtone is so low, my mother could not hear it or see the light flashing to know the phone was ringing. Her family was connected to the phone, but Mum could not answer it, even if she could have known it was ringing. This meant we had to call the main hospital number again and ask to be connected to the ward, explain the problem and hope they would take the phone to her. On one occasion, my mother wanted to call me. The ward clerk refused to assist, only saying Mum would have to use a credit card or pay cash to make an outgoing call. Mum was made to feel a nuisance and the demeanour of the staff member was quite rude and offensive. Mum explained to them that she did not have any cash or a credit card, to which they simply shrugged and walked away. On the morning of my mother's discharge, I tried to call the bedside phone and once again it rang out. I called again and was connected to the ward clerk. After asking to speak to my mother I was told no, she would not take the phone. When I explained my Mum is elderly and can’t reach the phone, the asked who is the patient? I told the ward clerk my mother's name and said which bed she was in. I was promptly told no, she is not. I said to the clerk that we have had the phone taken to her for the past few days, and they said they would not do it anymore and was told I would have to come in to speak to my Mum. I then asked where she was, if not in the bed I thought she was, and was told by the clerk they didn’t know and to ring the main hospital number. I was quite distressed by this reaction and hung up and rang the main number to be told my mother had been moved to another ward.

It is quite obvious this ward clerk should not be working in a department that requires some degree of compassion and understanding of the patient's needs, particularly with the elderly with limited mobility. I felt they were rude and abrupt and need to undertake some interpersonal skills training.

If the ringing tone on the telephone is kept low to prevent disturbance to other patients, why are patients permitted to play music and television to a volume that is loud and does disturb patients in a ward that is for observation?

Responses

Response from Diane Barr, Executive Director, Armadale Kalamunda Group We are preparing to make a change

picture of Diane Barr

Dear angry daughter,

Thank you for sharing your feedback with us about your mother’s stay at Armadale Hospital.

It is very important for us to hear from patients and their families about their hospital experience so I really appreciate that you took the time to write to us.

Firstly, I am so pleased to hear that you felt the treatment provided to your mother by the team in our Emergency Department (ED) was exemplary. Keeping our patients and their families informed and at ease while in hospital is important to us and I am proud that the ED team was able to ensure your mother was comfortable during what must have been an anxious time for her.

I will take great pride in passing on your praise and thanks to the staff involved in her care.

I am, however, very sorry to hear that your mother did not have a pleasant experience in our Medical Admissions Unit (MAU).

I fully acknowledge your mother’s frustration in relation to the noise in the unit. It is so important to be able to rest when we are sick and I have already provided your feedback to the MAU team to ensure you have been heard. The team will also be looking at ways to improve this situation and one suggestion being considered is the option of providing headphones for those patients watching TV and or listening to music.

I am sorry for the frustration caused by the bedside phones. It must have been very distressing for your mother to not have the comfort of knowing she could contact you. I have engaged our engineering staff to review the technical problems with the phones you have raised.

I am also deeply sorry your mother was made to feel the way you have described. Caring for patients with compassion and kindness is something we aim for every time. However, it is clear that your mother did not receive or feel kindness when she was asking for help. You may be interested to know that we are implementing a quality improvement program called 'Walk a Day in my Shoes' as part of our commitment to better understand and address some of the barriers and challenges faced by our patients, families and carers.

Our frontline staff will have the opportunity to develop their communication skills to enhance their interactions so that every person will be able to acknowledge the needs of individuals and respond with compassion and empathy. This training will be provided as a priority to our ward clerks.

In the meantime, we have provided feedback to the clerical team on the importance of treating our patients and families with respect and compassion. Your mother’s experience will also be shared at the next team meeting as your words are really powerful in helping us understand how communication can so negatively impact on a patient’s experience.

We are committed to providing the best possible patient experience and feedback such as yours is so valuable. If you would like further information about our Walk a Day in my Shoes initiative and/or an expanded discussion on the concerns you raised, I invite you to contact our Consumer Liaison Officer on (08) 9391 1153 or email AKG_ConsumerLiaision@health.wa.gov.au

Thank you again for getting in contact with us. Please pass on my best wishes to your mother and I hope she is recovering well after her hospital stay.

Kind regards

Diane Barr

Executive Director

Armadale Kalamunda Group

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