I know our experiences are far from unique, so I'm hoping these posts will resonate with other people in a similar position.
This 1st post in the series was written on the tube on the way back from seeing him yesterday.
On my way up to dad's 2nd floor flat, I drop in to wish DZ's daughter a Long Life. DZ died yesterday and her funeral's today, leaving dad the only nonagenarian left in the block.
Let myself into dad's flat. He's not there! I do the usual holding-breath-while-opening-doors routine, but, no, he really isn't there. Further investigation reveals he's gone out wearing a light summer jacket (it's cold and pissing down outside), no hat or brolly and without any of his selection of walking sticks or zimmer frames.
Phone his GP. They haven't seen him either. Grab an umbrella and prepare to search the streets for him, hoping against hope that he hasn't fallen again.
As I pass the library, I peep in and think I see him in the window. But it's not him after all. Decide I might as well check properly inside. Bingo! He's there, reading a newspaper. Huddled under the brolly, we head home for lunch.
'I'm a bit doddery,' he says in wonder.
'That's why you should take your stick when you go out,' I say. 'I've left one of my 'daft-old-bugger' notes next to your keys to remind you ...'
These daft-old-bugger notes generally work well. They remind him of crucial things (eg 'Don't wear these shoes, they hurt your feet, you daft old bugger') and make him laugh.
After lunch, I fill his pill box. He's forgotten to take his morning meds as usual (in spite of the 'Don't forget to take your pills, you daft old bugger' note stuck on his cereal bowl). Decide to call every morning to remind him if I'm not going to see him that day.
His medication has been changed following a discussion I had last week with his consultant. I've questioned the meds before with his crap GP to no avail but the consultant thinks I might have hit the nail on the head with my suggestion that dad's dizzy spells might be caused by one of the items.
The dressings G & I put on his head and elbow following his last fall haven't been changed. I tried to do it myself last week but bottled out and organised a visit from a district nurse. They confirmed they would come but clearly the visit never materialised. Will have to phone them later and find out what's happening.
Also see from notes that V, his lovely carer who pops in every evening to prepare a meal and ensure he's taken his next batch of pills, has been replaced by someone I don't know. Dad's acute short term memory loss means he didn't know about the change and no one's contacted me to let me know. I'm concerned as V and I have a really good relationship and she knows exactly what dad needs. Will have to phone agency later and find out what's happening.
Leave later than intended which means I'll now be late for picking up LG from school as it takes over 1.5 hours to get home.
I am continuously enraged by dad's GP's practice. They do the absolute minimum, have been known to lie to me, are outrageously inefficient and - more importantly - treat dad in a way that is at best uncaring and at worst downright negligent. I would complain except I'm really scared that they'd take it out on dad when I'm not there. I have a strong suspicion that there have been times they've sent him away without seeing him but I can't prove anything and of course he doesn't remember.
He's so vulnerable. It appalls me when I think about people who don't have family and friends looking out for them. This is no way to treat the elders of our community.
Luckily there are also some wonderful and caring people out there, working at the sharp end of the NHS and sharing these frustrations from the other end of the stethoscope.
This is an extract from, a new book, In Stitches, by Nick Edwards, who is a doctor in an A&E dept:
A sign the world has gone mad?
What has had happened to my patients today? They seemed to be getting lost when I sent them for X-ray. I'd given the same directions as normal, there had been no secret muggers hiding in the hospital corridors and as far as I know, no problems with space - time dimensions in our particular corner of the universe.
I went to X-ray to investigate. I found it quickly because I knew the way. However, I looked for the signs for X-ray and they were gone. The nice, old-fashioned and slightly worn signs had gone; they had been replaced by a sign saying 'Department of Diagnostic Imaging'. What the hell? I know what it means but only just and only because I have been inundated by politically correct 'shit-speak' for a number of years. What a pointless waste of money; to satisfy some manager, they replaced a perfectly good sign with one that means bugger all to 90% of people. Why don't they change the toilet sign to 'Department of Faecal and Urinary Excrement' or the cafe to 'Calorific Enhancement Area'. Who makes these decisions? Who is employed to do such pointless stuff? Why? Why?? Why???
I needed a caffeinated beverage in a disposable single-use container - management-speak for shit NHS/Happy Shopper instant coffee. I went to sit in the 'Relaxation, Rest and Reflection Room', previously known as staff room. There, the nurses were moaning that tonight one of their colleagues had called in sick and to save money their shift would not be covered by a bank nurse. In A&E, staff shortages can seriously undermine the safety of patient care.
I am sure this genius plan was decided by some personnel manager who I doubt has ever seen a patient, cannula or trolley, and therefore is obviously an expert at making nursing planning decisions. We have a hospital that can fund unnecessary new signs, but not replace nurses when they off sick. So, tonight who is going to go looking for the patients when they got lost on route to the Department of Diagnostic Imaging?