I have been spending time with my auntie Anne (my dads sister) . She’s over 100 years old and very strong willed , positive, agile, intelligent and bright . As I’ve got older I always connected more with my mums sister and her husband Auntie Hilda and Uncle Bill) and they were always delighted to see me . Sadly my dear Uncle Bill died last year after years of missing my late Auntie Hilda – I was heartbroken but I have happy memories of making wooden hearts with home on his jig saw machine and long conversations on my mobile phone from his landline when he’d ring me and chat . He used to press coins into my children’s hands and say “buy yourself something , your mum needs money for food and your home”
My younger sister clicked more with my Auntie Anne. Despite this I’ve always loved my Auntie Anne it’s just that we don’t realise the way that time passes . One day we are wondering what job to do and the next it’s time to think about a retirement plan . We miss seeing others and spending time with them whilst we are busy planning our futures .
Back to my story – around Easter time my Auntie had a fall and broke part of her pelvis (the superior rami to be exact) . I had to help so I offered my support to her daughter Judi and went to stay for a couple of nights so that Judi could go home .
Whilst I was there I learnt a lot about my late father and the tricks he’d get up to . It turns out he was a bit of a rebel . He kept mice in the coal shed and use to take two into school with him up his sleeve. At the age of eleven he cycled to Scotland with some friends because he’d always wanted to go there . I then learnt about other things – my dad Ralph worked as a car mechanic and was badly electrocuted an accident which led to him developing a pleural effusion . He was sent to a Strinesdale Sanitorium as part of his recovery . I googled this place and found a diary which may gave me a small insight into his week’s spent there click HERE to read (bear in mind this was years before the NHS was established)
Anyway back to my auntie …
My Auntie was sent home with greatly reduced mobility , the hospital in Manchester did not provide an ambulance and she had to crawl up hard concrete steps to get to her flat . Once inside she must have felt utter relief . She was with her daughter and my sister . My auntie told me that she hated being in hospital , that staff were not visible , that times had changed and she was glad to be home despite pain and worry about how she would recover more now because she was HOME. The staff had even argued with her about her medication and what time she should take it .
What strikes me about this true story is that my auntie does not complain lightly her mantra is and always has been “you’ve just got to get on with it ” . My Auntie is not soft , but she is human . I would like to know how discharge planning is ” we need your bed by 6pm and we can’t get hold of your daughter”
The decision to send my auntie home was a rushed decision without discharge planning , thought for her amazing daughter and a total lack of insight . The discharge process should have started in collaboration with my Auntie as soon as she was admitted – it didn’t . Strangely though I am glad for my auntie because she is recovering and she is safe . What about the other elderly people sent home like this with no family or friends to help them ? My auntie is still waiting to see a physio , when my cousin rang the GP the other day he said “I am NOT speaking to YOU!”
Let’s move onto to ‘carers’ . For six weeks my auntie is ‘entitled’ to support from carers in the enablement team . They assess DAILY whether my Auntie is improving . My argument with this approach is that there needs to be time for recovery to take place. This is a catch 22 position – here’s why
1. Assessment cannot be during recovery – for example a midwife cannot assess the mobility of a woman immediately post caesarean – it has to be done over time , using analgesia and when the woman is safe to mobilise . There must be clear information and evidence given to explain why post-op mobility is important but staged . Recovery is a human process and as each human is different so must each recovery be individualised according to age , pain , psychology , support and love .
2. Telling someone you are there to watch their progress is a watching role so why not call carers who are employed to observe and not give care “Watchers”
3. The carers or the “watchers ” told me and my cousin ( we shared stories and reflected ) that by being there we were affecting their ability to assess my auntie . So I said to them “so do you think that to make your job easier either Judi or I or whoever is with my auntie is going to walk out and stay out so that she can struggle the others hours that you don’t come ?” My question is did the carers see our presence as an inconvenience to them not a benefit to my Auntie ?
One particular carer came into my aunties flat did not say hello to my auntie and then said “are WE getting dressed ?” To which my auntie replied “no WE are not ” ( I giggled )
Another day a carer came in hugged my auntie and they had a lovely conversation about eye conditions and I saw the light shine from her heart into my Aunties sparkling eyes . They connected and I could see and feel their mutual respect . A much nicer experience for my auntie than the day before when another carer striped my auntie off (apart from her knickers) and sat her on the loo and left her to get on with a wash unaided . No cover or towel – I walked into to the bathroom covered my auntie and said “would you like me to wash your back Auntie ?” Bear in mind I have never seen my auntie naked before. Was this carer respecting my aunties decency and dignity ? When the carer (watcher ) heard me she walked into the bathroom and said “I was just coming to do that ! SHE (meaning my auntie ) needs to get one of those back washers on a stick ”
So I’m writing to the trust involved (in Manchester ) and I’m also adding that there must be some sort of regulation for carers . My aunties “carers and watchers” team are not NHS – they are an agency with a contract -aye there lies the rub . I must add that there ate two women in this team that that stand out head shoulders and ❤️hearts❤️ above the rest . They told me that they don’t fit in because they love their job – now there’s food for thought . I’m glad the agency don’t allow theses two women to work together as that way they will reach more people with their kindness care and compassion .
This blog is simply to help those involved in discharge planning for the elderly . It’s to help you learn from patients and relatives . Also it’s to try and identify where the communication and compassion gaps are and how we can do our best to try and fix them
Thank you for reading