Extract from My Diary. My Mother’s Story
Saturday August 19th 2006
Went to see my Mother in hospital, been worrying all day, all night. she is so poorly. Jenny had seen her that afternoon and came home and said she was feeling better, and was going to be more positive. Went in, and Mam was in the chair, I felt so much better. She was obviously feeling better. After a while, and feeling better she had a cream cracker and a little piece of cheese. Maybe 10 minutes later she started to complain, very suddenly….. Oh dear, oh dear I want to go to the toilet…………quick I cannot hold it…… I tried to reassure as best I could, and went to look for help. I found the ward manager who quickly asked one of the nurses to bring a commode. By this time, my Mother, already distressed had passed faeces. I told the nurse she was unfortunately too late. The expression on this nurse’s face said it all. She expressed no kindness, no caring, no sorrow for my Mothers situation, nor any comfort for me. Nothing, well, perhaps not nothing, a certain irritation which was being kept under control for my benefit, I wondered what would have been the response had I not been there. I reassured my Mother, in this nurses presence that everyone needed to have their bowels open, even, and I stressed the nurses, although, as I said to my Mother, you could be forgiven for not thinking that.
I know without any shadow of a doubt, how my Mother felt, I know with absolute certainty, how I feel. And I know that the nurse in question, felt nothing for either of us. So much for Care. So much for the heart of Nursing. Because in my opinion, nursing, its essence, its reason for being is long gone. There is little competence, no compassion, and certainly no courage.
Sunday August the 20th
Jenny went to see Mam in the evening, as soon as she entered her room she knew there was something wrong. My Mother started to cry and upon questioning said that one of the nurses had been very rude to her, because she had been incontinent of faeces. The nurse in question had said “why don’t’ you ask for a commode? What’s wrong with you” My mother responded by saying “ I get pain and it just comes from me” the nurse then responded with you are obnoxious”. A second nurse (phillopino) made no comment, and certainly did not support my mother against this vitriolic outburst. Jenny at this point was incensed, and asked my Mother did she want to make a complaint, my Mother said yes she did. Jenny then went out onto the ward approached the nurse in question and told her she wanted to make a complaint on behalf of my mother and told the nurse that the complaint was about her. Jenny then asked that the nurse in charge of the hospital be contacted. Approximately 10 minutes later Jenny approached the nursing station where all the nurses had congregated, in that time no-one had come to speak to my Mother to find out what was wrong. When Jenny then spoke to the nurses at the desk she said that she had documented when she had asked for the nurse in charge to be contacted. The response from the male auxiliary was “and we have, love”!!!!! in a tone and manner which was both threatening and derisory. Not one of the group of nurses offered any support or care.
Monday evening I went to visit Mam, she was up in a chair, although still very poorly, and obviously still incontinent, it is obvious to me that the Clostridium has returned with a vengeance. My poor Mother looks so worn out. A ripple mattress has been put on the bed, although Jenny did say days ago that the pressure area score needed to be revised. I was loath to make any comment about anything, for fear of repercussions.
After a little while I asked my Mother if she had seen anyone today, and she then said she had seen a gentleman called Horace she started to get upset at this point and then said “ she called me obnoxious” why would she say such a thing” my Mother then said “ she is not a nurse – she should never be a nurse” I then asked my Mother whether the other nurse had said anything or tried to support my Mother in any way, My Mother responded with “not a word”.
Mam still very poorly, Doctors are doing their best, bug has returned again, with a vengeance spoke to one of the doctors and told him that my Mother had diarrhea all over the weekend. No specimen has been sent. Doctor said he would have expected the nurses to have sent one. He also said he didn’t know what was happening any more he said he was very sorry. My Mothers tablet s had been left on the locker and it was 11am when I arrived. She was sleeping I also found her dehydrated, no-one was encouraging my Mother to drink, I am so worried.
Arrived at hospital and was left into ward at 3pm. Went to my Mothers room and found the door closed. I enquired of the auxiliary whether anyone was with my Mother. She opened the room, and I found my Mother in a dreadfully distressed state. The room was hot the windows were closed it was smelling strongly of faeces. My Mother did not recognize me at first and was in the chair crying “help me, help me”. She had also been sick. She had an infusion in situ which had obviously tissued the alarm was sounding.. The buzzer was no-where to be seen, and I found it tied to the cot side on the other side of the bed. My Mother is very sick, she cannot walk and there was no way that she could draw attention to herself. No-one had attended her or checked.
I immediately requested that someone attend my Mother and put her back to bed. I then spoke to Nurse Smith who was very supportive and apologizing on behalf of her colleagues. She came and spoke to my Mother and showed her support. I then spoke to Staff Nurse Waterman who was in charge of the ward, in Nurse Smith’s presence. I then requested to speak to the Consultant Mr Dailey which I did. The nurse who was directly caring for my mother during this incident was on loan from another ward.
Jenny returned home after visiting my Mother, and had once again found the tablets left on the locker. My Mother was tired and drowsy. Jenny immediately informed one of the nurses and sent the nurses who were responsible for my Mothers care, the one nurse was very apologetic and tried to give reasons for this ommission in care. The other nurse was uncommunicative, her manner was uncaring, no apology, just a distasteful look on her face. My Mother could see this attitude and Jenny tried to reassure her as best she could.
Tablets are constantly being left on the locker. My mother’s not with it enough to take them, she is dehydrated; I do not feel there is enough encouragement with drinks. I take in fruit drinks most times they are still in the bag where I left them.
Friday… I remain very anxious about the care my mother is receiving; it will no doubt be a long week-end. Decided to ring hospital and speak to Chief Executive I was told he was on leave, I then requested to speak to the deputy chief executive. She suggested we meet. That day I met with the deputy chief executive, the Executive nurse and the assistant head of nursing.. I felt that at least the deputy chief executive was treating the matter very seriously.
At the meeting I gave a full history of events from my mother’s admission. I explained that I had submitted a formal letter of complaint on the 20th August, but had not yet received an acknowledgement. This was acknowledged. I then asked should I write a second letter as the ongoing issues I.e. the ones being discussed in the meeting had not been addressed in the original complaint letter. I was assured that there was no need for that as notes would be taken.