My elderly parent

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This post is born from frustration and is dedicated to all children and spouses in a similar situation!

This is my 77 year old father. It’s his birthday this month. He’s rather sweet and lovely. He is in hospital. I’m not sure when he will go home, if he will go home or where he will go if he doesn’t go home. Here is why.

On 17th February this year I was woken by a phone call. It was the care line that runs my dad’s emergency care button. “He’s fallen over” they said, “could you go and pick him up or check on him?” I thought for a second and then asked them if they had thought about ringing an ambulance. “Oh,” they said “do you think we should?”

I got dressed and drove to my dad’s. There was a paramedic there and my dad was on the floor, he’d managed to wedge himself between his freezer and a worktop. He was in a lot of pain. The single paramedic couldn’t lift him and had called for backup. We waited and waited, my dad stayed on the cold floor. He never complains and yet there he was moaning, whimpering.

An hour later he was in A&E at the QEQM in Margate. I found it worrying that I had stopped to buy fuel on the way to the hospital and yet managed to arrive before him. The overworked A&E staff undressed him and put him in a bay. We sat and sat. Dad was on morphine by this point and still in a lot of pain.

After 4 hours, we finally were sent for x-rays. The porter on the way back wheeled my dad’s trolley into a wall. “It’s ok”, he said, “I’m leaving the job anyway. I’m just not really into the job anymore”

It turned out that dad’s arm was broken, however he was still in a huge amount of pain. They decided to discharge him. I had to question how they thought that my father could be discharged. He is blind, unstable on his feet at the best of times, had a broken arm and was whimpering about a pain in his leg. The hospital sent in a physiotherapist. “You’ve been in here recently.” “No” replied my dad. “Yes, you have, I recognise you from the dressing on your head!” (He hadn’t been in the hospital) The physio gave my dad a lecture about falling over and told him to move his leg. My dad couldn’t, he was in pain. He moaned and cried. The physio left. At this point it was revealed that my dad also had a broken pelvis. I left the hospital, drove home and cried. We had been in A&E for 13 hours!

The next day I went to visit him. The ward staff told me that they were going to get my dad walking on crutches. I was astonished, “But he has a broken arm!”, “No, he doesn’t, it’s just twisted.” Dad was cold, tired and confused. “How can I walk? I’m in so much pain”

The following week the hospital decided that dad needed a blood transfusion. They repeatedly attempted to put a cannula in his arm. When they finally tried to transfuse blood, it didn’t work and the blood came out everywhere. My dad begged them to stop. “This is Mr Scott,” the junior doctor said on the ward the next day, “he refused a blood transfusion yesterday.” My dad looked at me, “I’m starting to get a bad reputation and I’ve wasted blood.” “That’s ok Dad, I’ve donated 21 pints so we have plenty in the bank.”

In total the hospital moved my dad’s ward 4 times without notifying me. They spelt his name wrong on the board above his bed. It was upsetting. At one point they even put him in a room on his own with no stimulation (Dad is registered blind). One afternoon I arrived to find that they had sent a home in Deal (35 miles from his home) to come and take him. He refused to go. Good on him. Another day a hospital worker had decided to make a joke about dad’s bladder cancer. Apparently, he wees too much in the night!

Finally, he was moved to Faversham Hospital for aftercare. Much closer to home, much easier to visit. It was designed as a step down. I sat and chatted with my dad. He was worried to go home. I would have been too, he could fall at any time. We discussed his options. We decided to rent out his house to pay for care and to see what happened, possibly even to buy a sheltered flat for him. He was using a zimmer frame to get about and I’d bought him some nice “sticky” shoes to keep him upright.

Finally, last week a social worker came to visit him. She assessed him. My dad and I are yet to read the assessment, but apparently my dad said that he wanted to go in a home. When the social worker heard how many savings my dad had, she told him that he could keep his house. That was nice, right. She also told him that a home would cost my dad £1000 a week. He worked out the maths. He could keep a roof over his head for 4 1/2 years.

She rang me the next day, “He definitely wants to go in a home” she said. I asked her about sheltered housing. “No, definitely a home!” I asked if they had any prefered homes, the CQC reports are always frustratingly different from the websites that we see online. “No, no prefered homes. We don’t like to show preferential treatment.” I asked again about sheltered housing, the reply was negative. I was also told that my dad needed to be discharged into a home. There was no idea given of when the discharge would be. She said she’d leave me a list of homes with vacancies.

I went and spoke to my dad. He quite liked the idea of sheltered housing. For the same price as a home I could get him take away every night and privately funded carers to check on him. For the price of a home we could get a Michelin starred lunch every week. We agreed, go in a home temporarily and then maybe a sheltered flat. Dad was pretty definite that he wouldn’t be going home. His physios had told him so.

The list of homes didn’t arrive!

This morning I received a phone call from an occupational therapist telling me that my dad wanted to go home…..to his house. They wanted to assess his house for his discharge….which should have been today! “What?”

Now I’ve just had his social worker calling to tell me that she’d left a list of homes for him on the ward for me to collect!

I’m confused. For want of sounding like a terrible daughter, he can’t go home. I am an only child, I have no cousins, aunts, uncles or children to help me with any of this. The responsibility for my father’s future has been plonked firmly in my hands, with confusing and conflicting advice from so called professionals. My father and I have been patronised and dupped. How am I supposed to decide the well being of a sentient, sane and intelligent human being, who’s body is failing him? Where is my advice, my support, his support? Why is my dad being treated like a senile old man?

I complained about his treatment in hospital, nothing happened. I’ll probably complain about his discharge, nothing will happen. If my dad was my age, I question if he would have been treated in the same manner as this. If it was me, would I be going through the same treatment?

Rant ends.