24 November 2010

Life at the Manor

This article brought back some bad memories for me. It is shameful that an elderly man should be treated (or not treated as the case is) like this. An apology has been made by the Head of Nursing at the Manor and the Coroner commented that Mr Westwood had not received the level of care he needed.

The problem as I personally see it though is that there are few that do get the care they require and need. To me this problem is in the ownership of the management who clearly do not give the leadership and direction that is so sorely needed, so wound up as they are in targets and figures rather than in the patients that they are responsible for. And yes I use the word patients and not service users or other euphemisms that have crept into our daily life.

Let me make it clear; I have met many staff from doctors to nurses to ancillary staff at the Manor who are dedicated and work tirelessly in the comfort and care of their patients but despite the shiny new buildings and state of the art technology, there is an endemic culture of mismanagement there.

Let's start with out patient appointments at clinics. I have had the misfortune of having attended countless such appointments at various clinics run by various consultants. The words brewery, inebriation and organise not, spring to mind. Not one has ever run efficiently. I am yet after 10 years, to see a member of staff within 15 minutes of my appointment time and my last visit ran up a record of a two hour wait before the consultation. No apologies were offered and no information was given as to how long I may be sat there for. Taking into account that my appointment was set for only 10 minutes after the start of clinic I wasn't expecting a flight time check in wait. It's no use making a complaint as I have discovered because all you get back is patronising platitudes that mean nothing are are worth less and a displeased consultant who is none to happy with you.

In the brand new out patient in the shiny new PFI funded building, clinic patients are to be issued with pagers if clinics are running late in order that the patient can go wander around the various franchised catering outlets and be paged when the consultant is ready to see them. Presumably the pager manufacturer is working flat out to furnish the hospital with the outrageous numbers required! Why can't the hospital management come up with a better run system? One say that does not book three or four patients into the same time slot with the same consultant? Other hospitals do. I have frequented the QE in Birmingham and the Children's Hospital also in Birmingham on a fairly regular basis and their clinics do run far more efficiently. Never at either of those establishments have I waited longer than 30 minutes after the appointment time and frequently have been seen on the dot.

The crux though: Mr Westwood was subject to the type of lack of care and attention that my mother encountered at the same hospital in 2004. Since then we have been assured that practices have improved to go with the beautiful new facilities. It seems not. I copy below part of a blog I made back then about the lack of care and treatment Mom received.

"As I entered the ward I was struck by the most powerful and overwhelming smell of urine and faeces. The further you get into the ward, the worse it gets. There is no getting away from it. Unbelievably the ward is carpeted and it is the carpet that I can smell. I was not the first to complain about this and I wasn't the last. The ward was an orthopaedic one which due to its nature meant that many of the patients were elderly who had suffered nasty fractures. Incontinence is no stranger to the elderly especially when they are distressed following a fall. Whoever made such a pathetic decision to lay carpet in such a ward should have their noses rubbed in it.

Mom was a patient for eight weeks. For about half of this time she lay flat on her back unable to move and therefore subject to the whim of the staff when it came to bedpans and feeding. Most of the time her meals were removed uneaten and no remark made. Trying to feed yourself whilst lying flat on your back and being in incredible pain is difficult to say the least. Mom had called for a bedpan several times but had been unable to produce the goodies. This meant that when she called for one again the staff started to get a little slack. She was worried about this and mentioned it to a nurse. The nurse told her not to worry and if they didn't get there in time to "just shit yourself, everyone else does and we have to clean it up anyway". Not only was Mom helpless but she was now having what little dignity she had left brutally removed from her. Naturally the staff member who said this denied it when I made my written complaint but I have since encountered several people who have spent time on the same ward and have been told exactly the same thing. I suspect it is unwritten hospital policy.

A couple of days in I sat down at visiting time next to Mom's bed and remarked that the urine smell was even worse. Mom whispered that the night before her urine bag (she had a catheter fitted) had not been emptied and it had got so full it burst.

One night after a week inside I received a desperate telephone call from Mom at 10pm. They were moving her to another ward. No warning, nothing, just like that. They had waited until after I had left at 9pm and then moved her. Now I accept that people have to be moved in order to take account of operational needs but why is it done when relatives have returned home? Mom was very upset because of the stressful situation she was in as well as the unremitting pain.

The move turned out to be a good one once Mom had settled into the new ward. She wasn't moved again and over the next few weeks through better pain management and physiotherapy began to become more mobile again. However distressing experiences were plentiful. One elderly lady came in with two broken wrists. If my mother had not helped her to feed, that woman would have starved because nobody ever helped her with her food. Another woman discharged herself and went home to no support or help because she did not want to be sent to a care home miles away from her own home, meaning that her only visitor, her lodger who suffered from alzheimer's would not have been physically able to visit her. Pain management for some patients was a joke with them having to fight for something a little stronger than a paracetamol."

It saddens me to ask you to compare and contrast with the lack of care and treatment that Mr Westwood received. Little has changed including the Chief Executive, although the carpets have gone thank goodness. The culture of an organisation for me, comes from the top. If the top executives refuse to address endemic practices and attitudes then they spread and fester. If however they realise that enough is enough and that bad practice, bad care and bad treatment will not be tolerated and stop worrying about financial figures for long enough to actually think about how a hospital should be run, for the benefit of the patients and not to further their own careers, then it can change.

Like I said there are some really wonderful staff at the Manor. Pity they're not having a say in how the place should be run.

1 comment:

  1. I too have had my moments with the Walsall Manor, as you can see from my blog: http://derekbennetteu-sceptic.blogspot.com/2010/10/in-place-that-time-forgot.html

    However, you have to speak as you find and I must say that the treatment my old mom is currently getting in there is warm and caring, although the time everything takes is an issue.