"Palliative Care"

About: Atherton Hospital

(as a relative),

I was interested to read the story of someone whose elderly parent was cared for at the Atherton Hospital prior to the parent's death.  Their experience of being offered a private room to be near their parent, good communication with doctors and nurses etc. was not my family's experience with the death of my husband.

He was supposed to be in palliative care, but from what we saw there was little of this.  He died alone, without us, in spite of me saying that we could be rung at any time since we did not live far away.   We were not offered a room to be near him.

When I asked the time of death and why we were not called, two different reasons were given, in my opinion showing someone was trying to cover their back and knew something was wrong.

The family were not introduced to the doctor in charge or to any Health Care Team so that we could discuss his situation, so could not ask any questions relevant to the case or understand what was going on.

My husband was given a syringe driver that administers drugs, without any prior advice that this would take place to his family in spite of him saying he was in no pain.  He had not been in pain in Cairns Base.  In fact I had spoken to him the day before and he seemed frail but coherent.  After the drugs he struggled to make us understand him and was very upset and frustrated by this.

Although he had written Catholic on his entry forms for his time in Cairns Hospital from where he had been transferred, no priest was called to give the last rites or even a blessing.

The last time we saw him alive he looked bewildered, confused and had begun to hallucinate, where only the afternoon before there was no sign of any of this. This will be our last memory of him now forever. I do not believe people deteriorate that quickly, but if they do then the family should be communicated about all things and allowed to stay with their family member.

His family, now, not only has  to deal with  the loss of a dear husband and father, but a feeling that everyone let him down at the last moment, and that we as a family couldn't save him from some very inadequate care.

As a corollary to this I have been astounded to find there is no Hospice on the Tablelands.  I have seen wonderful care given in hospices elsewhere with dying patients given massage and relaxing baths etc., [public hospices] and hospital palliative care where nurses deal with other ordinary patients too, even if done well can't come anywhere close.

I am now personally terrified of ever having myself or anyone of my family treated by Atherton Hospital, particularly if I am dying.

Responses

Response from Patient Opinion Australia

The following response has been published by Patient Opinion Australia on behalf of Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service.

Dear Hawthorn,

Thank you for your feedback relating to your husband's treatment at the Atherton Hospital.

I would like to pass on my sincere condolences at the loss of your husband and I would like to apologise for the delay in providing this response.

I was very disappointed to read about your experience during your husband’s admission. Providing care to patients during such a vulnerable time of their life is an extremely valuable privilege and we expect that staff provide patients and their family the utmost respect, dignity and support during what can be a distressing and confronting time.

Based on your feedback, I acknowledge that there were a number of issues experienced during your husband's admission that may require review to prevent a recurrence. I would like to sincerely apologise for this experience and any additional distress caused during what I am sure was an already difficult time.

Should you choose to you are welcome to contact the Patient Liaison Service either via phone 07 4226 6864 / 07 4226 8244 or by email CHHHS_Feedback@health.qld.gov.au

Kind regards,

Patient Liaison Service

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health service

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