My mum and many others

My mother has Alzheimer’s disease and lives in a nursing home. She became very agitated, very confused and was screaming and was then admitted to hospital for treatment for an urinary tract infection (UTI). The medication she was given made her sleepy and quite out of it day and night. Following her return to the nursing home two weeks later she was then re-admitted to another hospital as they thought she had had a seizure. The staff in the emergency department were fantastic, but when she was sent to the ward she was once again given quite a lot of medications to keep her quiet and then returned to her nursing home.

Issues/problems faced

Some staff members don’t appear to have any training on how to care for and communicate with a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Some talked to my mother in a loud voice, as if she was deaf and treated her like she was a badly behaved child. I also found it hard to get the right information about what was happening. I felt they just wanted to get her out, that nobody really cared and that people like her were not wanted.

I understand nursing staff are busy but I witnessed one elderly lady crying out for the toilet, was told to wait five mins, but I don’t think she understood what “five mins” meant. I called another staff member and asked her to assist the lady as she was very distressed and couldn’t hold on.

Strategies that made (or could have made) a difference to your experience

People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia need extra support in hospital, someone who can comfort them when they are in pain or having injections, and make sure they get proper care. My mother was in this other world, vulnerable and frightened. Perhaps a properly trained personal care worker could accompany them?

Tips for others

Think about how you would like to be treated when you are old and in the same position. Think about the family members and how helpless and guilty they may be feeling.
We have decided as a family if mum has to go back anytime again, one of us will be there on a roster system, to make sure our mother is not ignored, and treated with dignity and respect.