My sister and I have had what you could only call a roller coaster of a week in the hands of the NHS where our Dad has been in their care for 12 weeks on Monday.
Last weekend Dad’s care and dignity went out the window and for the first time I had to report an incident which I had witnessed but I will not go into.
I was listened to with warmth and understanding and had a phone call and a meeting booked to go through it with people higher up in the management. I was promised that the care he’d had was not how it should be and that the person who had dealt with Dad roughly would be dealt with and would ‘never’ care for my Dad again whilst he was in the hospital. That apology and promise alone made me feel it had been the right thing to report him.
Dad suddenly developed a cough which sounded very much like pneumonia and went downhill very quickly, so much so that they asked me to phone my sister and get her to fly back to the UK (she lives in Spain). She could not get a flight until the following day but I was able to stay at Dads side. Later in the afternoon, they told me to go home and have a rest as he was stable and that if he went worse they would phone me straight away. I had only been back at Dads for an hour when the phone rang and they told me to go back.
I sat in the chair with him all night on a very noisy ward which definitely seemed to upset him with the curtains closed for privacy. They could not do enough for me (and Dad) but I did wish I could have been in a side room or at least somewhere quiet for Dad. Dad got through the night and I was convinced it was because I told him my sister was flying in.
I popped home at 6 am for a shower and change and when I went back to see Dad he was the calmest I had ever seen him but he was under the care of the nurse that I had reported. I was feeling so emotional that I knew I would not be able to hold it together if I went to say anything so I decided to just not leave Dad for a second.
A consultant came to see me and said Dad had improved slightly but his late-stage heart failure meant he did not have long and was there anything they could do to help me/Dad. I asked if I could have a single room so that we could put a bed in for us to be able to stay with him during the night, if necessary, to which she replied she would do her best to put that in place.
When my sister arrived he seemed quite settled and his breathing better even though he also had pneumonia in one lung. Yet again they told us to go back and have a rest and they would call if Dad went worse. We both went straight to bed expecting a call at some stage during the night but both slept 10 hours and no phone call came.
Yesterday they moved Dad to a private room and from being asleep most of the time he woke up and sang his way to his room. I went straight to the consultants to thank them for sorting this out for me and asked them if they could hear my Dad singing. ‘Yes, I can’, one of them replied, ‘ It’s just the delirium that’s making him sing like that some of them do that’, she said. I replied ‘ I couldn’t care less what’s causing it as it’s the happiest my Dad has been in the twelve weeks he has been in this hospital’.
Dad was so at peace that we had an emotional couple of hours with him while he said his goodbyes and he even said the last lines of the Lords Prayer which really shocked us as Dad is in no way religious. It made us feel better as he has always been frightened of dying and quite openly admitted it. He kept saying he’d had enough and just wanted to drift away. A couple of times we thought he was nearly there but then he would wake up and then get quite upset that he was still here.
Later in the afternoon, the consultant asked us if we would go into a side room to chat about Dad. She said his recent blood showed he was improving and although still very poorly with his late-stage heart failure that they would continue with intravenous drugs and fluids. We asked how long this could take and she said it could be days or weeks but she felt that this was the appropriate route to go down. We explained what Dad had said to us and really just wanted Dad to go the way he wanted to go, but it was decided that the intravenous drugs would be applied until Monday and if there was no improvement but then they would be stopped.
She tried to explain it to Dad but he was a bit confused so we explained it to him when she left us. He was so upset and pleaded with us to not let this happen because he’d had enough and just wanted to go. We explained we cannot do that and came away last night in a complete haze after such a roller coaster of a week. The best thing that happened yesterday was that Dad can now die in dignity with us by his side being cared for by some of the nicest people you could wish for.
When I reported the incident that happened last weekend I did say to them that Dad had been in their care for 12 weeks on Monday and during that time there had only been this one bad apple so considering the stress they are under it’s amazing to say we never needed to report a thing to them before then. We understood that the many falls he had were simply down to the fact that they were so short staffed they could not watch over Dad 24/7. I’m sure we cannot be the only ones who would prefer to be with their loved ones in a quiet place and feel that this could be something they could sort maybe sort out for others.