This day, 5 years ago, was obviously a day of quiet reflection for us, as will be today. It’ll give me a chance to update this blog over events while you were in intensive care.
All we could do when you arrived in hospital, on Saturday 8 December 2007, was sit with you in ITU, where you were transferred once you had been stabilised in A&E, and once we had discussed with the Consultants. Questions were beginning to formulate in our minds, caused by the very questions we were asked by the Consultants, but it was a weekend so there was no chance of contacting the social worker or the care home manager. We left messages on the social worker’s answering system.
The first question we were asked was to explain how your diabetes had come to be so out of control. Our answer: we never knew it was out of control. It was as if we were being held responsible. Only later did we discover that, for some unexplained reason, the paperwork indicated that you lived with us, rather than that you lived in Lennox House in London. That was our first realisation that the paperwork needed to be looked at with a close eye. We were asked many more questions, of course, and we were told much about your condition on arrival. Shocking was your condition.
On the Monday, still in ITU, I had a sudden thought. The social worker had declared herself “the decision maker” when it came to deciding where you should live. We were not even invited to the ward round meeting where this important decision about you was made. She was “the appointed decision maker”, she said.
So, I wondered why she had not responded to my phone message. After all, surely she should be making decisions now too, shouldn’t she, if she had taken so much power away from us, and from you. But the social worker was conspicuous by her absence and by her silence.
Then, you were moved into isolation because it was decided you had C-Diff (Clostridium Difficile). So you spent the next few days in isolation, with us as close as we could get to you.
Still no contact from the social worker.
We had to leave you to go to the funeral of a dear friend, and we were away for a couple of days. I managed to speak with the social worker and with the care home manager. I was polite but firm when I asked the care home manager to explain to me exactly what had happened in the days that I hadn’t been with you. The social worker told me that she had asked for a report from the care home, so I asked to see a copy of it when it emerged. I never did get to see it. I also asked the Lennox House care home manager for a copy of every single page of the care home notes, records, paperwork that arrived with you, paperwork that went with you when Lennox House care home sent you by ambulance to A&E.
When I mentioned that you had C-Diff, the care home manager told me that you had had an episode of C-Diff when you were in Highgate Mental Health Unit’s assessment ward, just before discharge from there. That was news to me. I said I found it surprising the care home had accepted you, and I asked why it hadn’t been mentioned before. Her words will never leave me. She said that it often happened that people arrived in the care home with C-Diff, but it wasn’t necessarily mentioned on the paperwork. She said the same applied to MRSA.
To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. I was beginning to get used to shock.
I learned that you had been seen by a GP – the manager said you’d been seen the Wednesday before admission to hospital. Not true. A GP had only been summoned by the sending of two faxes – yes, faxes – two hours apart on Friday 7 December 2007. But nobody declared that when the first investigation was carried out. (More about that another day.)
You were moved out of isolation and ITU to a general ward. You regained consciousness only briefly, and one day they managed to get you from bed to chair. Just the once.
You spoke only two words. “Thank you.” The last words you ever spoke.
Tomorrow is another day – and it certainly was, 5 years ago.
You deserved better care.
(To be continued)