Over the last year I have had to take my father into Belfast hospital A&E for assessment and admission following a pro-longed illness and time at home – this occurred on a number of occasions. The waiting times at A&E from time registered to time of admission into the ward have been 11-12 hours on each occasion – and according to the hospital staff, these were not busy, busy days!
The staff in the wards were excellent and they managed to get my father stabilised; however in the first instance whilst they resolved his physical symptoms they did not tactical underlying problem, and he was discharged after nearly three weeks to his home and myself. This discharge was pushed through due the urgent need to release beds for new patients, and when I arrived in the evening to pick my father up I found him sitting in his pyjamas, dressing gown and with a blanket wrapped around him beside the desk in the reception area; totally unsure of where he was and why he was being asked to sit there. I further had the indignity of having to dress him into his street clothes by using the toilet, as there was nothing else available. This whole situation further stressed him out, and when I did get him home he slipped into the illness and went straight back to where it had been before admission, and after another 4 weeks of both stress for my father and myself, he was again admitted to hospital, and this time was taken onto a ‘Ward for the Elderly’ where he was assessed as having dementia.
From this point forward the route was fairly well planned, and he ended up being discharged to a great nursing home ‘Ben Madigan’ in Newtownabbey. The staff here have proved to be wonderful and very supportive of both my dad and myself, for being in the midst of dementia is stressful for both the parties – the family member diagnosed and the rest of the family supporting.
Illness at any time is stressful, but when the patient is suffering from such a debilitating disease as dementia, then more care must be taken in hospitals and our NHS to ensure a quality of care above that of what we expect.