Friday, 11 July 2014

Here's one I wrote earlier

At the end of last month the Nursing Times website (popular nursing magazine) put up a few words I wrote. My intention to make anyone who works on a ward to stop and think next time they encounter a patient who also suffers from dementia.
May I share the words with you, rather than link to it as you sometimes need to register to read it in full.

My mother, Rachel, was admitted, via a clinic to a liver ward. She had pain free jaundice due to an obstruction. She was also suffering with medium stage Alzheimer’s. She presented well and could communicate, laugh, joke and had no behavioural problems sometimes associated with my mother’s level of dementia. However she was also likely to forget any conversation, not be able to find the toilet, not remember where she was or why she was there. She would also be very scared and bewildered, bored and fed up.  Rachel a lifelong voracious reader could no longer process the words in a book and no longer had the concentration to watch a TV programme.
I was formerly a nurse then full time carer of my mum, as well as a single parent. By being on the ward I could sit with her, reassure her, wash and dress her, sit in on conversations with medical staff and then explain it all to her as many times as she needed. My face was truly the only one she could recognise anymore and just my presence reassured her as she trusted in me totally.
Decisions were a hard one for Rachel. Choice of a sandwich or which colour lipstick to put on could be too much for her. She needed the decision being made for her but at the same time not taking her control away. Patience was always needed as any sign of impatience seemed to shut her down and rendered her unable to cope.
We were lucky in that the ward soon realised how helpful having me there was and the hostility and confusion of staff soon dissipated. I realise not all carers can be there though and often can use a hospitalisation to rest up a little. My family relieved me at visiting hours so I could go home and check out the rest of my family. We lived like this for a full week until a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was given. Then we were given a side room and all family could come and go as needed. This enabled us to set up a 24 hour vigil of family carers so she never had to be alone again.
The conclusion was that by the flexibility given the hospital admission was not as stressful for my mother as it could have been. Patience and flexibility made it a positive experience.
Rachel, my mum died on 11th March 2013.She had peace and dignity in her last few days thanks to the NHS.
I feel it's important to get the word out there using any means possible because it just may help one person for just one hospital visit.
Thanks for reading this.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story, it's good to hear positive comments on the NHS.

  2. Thank you for sharing, I currently care for my elderly parents. I am blessed, that they still have their faculties, they are both just a little forgetful at times.

  3. Great and interesting post.
    My mum was in hospital this year just before Easter and dad was able to visit anytime he wanted for as long as he wanted as it kept mum calm and then we took in her twiddlemuff and the kept her busy whilst there were no visitors.
    The ward sister was lovely and saw the potential of the muffs for other patients. With help with making of the muffs I delivered 14 at the end of May. I've not had any feed back about them.

    1. Just had a look on your blog at what a twiddlemuff is. Brilliant idea and they look so colourful and interesting.

  4. A very moving account of your mums hospital stay. My mum had alzheimers, during a hospital stay she was going without food as she couldn't feed herself. The food would be put in front of her and then taken away untouched. Other patients told us this was happening, so after that my dad made sure he was there at meal times and fed her. The staff were reluctant at first but as they were too busy to feed her soon realised that it was necessary. We have had wonderful care from the NHS, but when people with dementia are on ordinary wards it can be very difficult for staff, patients and family. Thank you for writing the article, hopefully in future people with dementia will receive the special care they need. x

  5. Thanks Chickpea. I really hope to take the idea further and increase awareness of dementia.