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"My mother received excellent care whilst in Ward 2B at Prince Charles Hospital."

About: The Prince Charles Hospital

(as a relative),

Last year when my elderly mother was experiencing a great deal of abdominal pain, an ambulance was called and she was transferred to Prince Charles Emergency Department. Whilst in ED, the care and consideration she received was good. The day after she was admitted, she had emergency bowel surgery. She came through the surgery well and was transferred to the ward. She was placed into a mixed ward. At her age, this was a very uncomfortable experience for my mother. Even though she was being charged as a private patient she didn't mind having to share a room, it was that she was sharing with men. Mixed wards are unacceptable, particularly for elderly women. My mother recovered very well and was discharged home. During surgery they found a mass in a different section of the bowel, this was left for further investigation as the initial problem was more serious. An appointment was made for her to have a colonoscopy at a later date, to have the mass investigated. After discharge, my mother's health fluctuated, some days she felt well and other days she felt very unwell. At a surgery follow up visit my mother, an extremely capable and intelligent woman, asked the resident about the colonoscopy - it seemed that despite the urgency, it was not being fast-tracked. The resident stepped in and organised for the colonoscopy to be undertaken urgently. Due to my mother’s age and mobility issues, she requested that she be admitted for the pre-colonoscopy treatment. This was refused. My mother was quite stressed about trying to manage the treatment at home because of her mobility problems. My sister found that if her GP recommended it, she could be admitted. So after a visit to the GP and a fairly stern recommendation for admittance, my mother was admitted for her pre-colonoscopy treatment.

My mother was given a private room for this admission. Issues with the pre-colonoscopy treatment did develop, so it was lucky that my mother was in hospital. The colonoscopy showed that my mother had bowel cancer. Further surgery was recommended. Because of her previous surgery and her being unwell between that surgery and the colonoscopy, she required a special diet and IV feeding to build her up for the next surgery. My mother and the rest of the family could not fault the care she received during this time, although there were two nurses who whilst attending her, came in, did what had to be done but nothing more, they didn't speak to her or explain what they were doing, she felt she was treated as a disease, not as a person, they were the exception. The staff attending my mother were always very caring and considerate, this was not only the nursing and medical staff, but also the other members of staff that make a ward run. We could not have asked for a better team to care for her. Before the 1st surgery my mother had only ever been admitted to hospital to have her children, the youngest is now 46. Hospitals have changed a lot since then and my mother was unsure of what to expect. She was comfortable with the team and felt well cared for.

My mother was on ward 2B for just over a month, her condition during this time deteriorated, so did her mental state. She did at times become quite cross and fed up with everything and everybody. As the work load on everyone caring for her increased, the level of care and respect shown to her did not change. During the last couple of weeks of my mother’s stay, we didn't want her to be alone. One of my sisters was permitted to be with her from 08: 00 to 18: 00, this was of great comfort to my mother. Staff were happy to disregard visiting restrictions to allow this.

We are lead to believe that specialists can be off hand and uncommunicative, however this was not the case with Dr Harish I and his team. In the lead up to the surgery he and his team were always willing to stop and answer my mothers and our questions. After my mother’s surgery he called us to let us know the outcome. The news wasn't good and he asked us what would be the best way to tell my mother. He came in and sat with her and told her in a caring and sensitive manner. We were given the information on possible outcomes my mother may face. 'Cancer' is a word that raisers fear when it is associated with a loved one, Dr Harish I and his team could not have been more down to earth and informative, for this we thank them.

Unfortunately my mother did not have a good outcome, and in just over a week after the surgery, my mother died. However, we feel that every care, every attention was given to her. It was simply unfortunate that the cancer had spread. Dr Harish and the team were wonderful in the way in which they kept us informed as to my mother's condition and included us all in her circumstances. They were gentle and caring and we would like to thank them for the concern and attention they provided. This was reflected throughout by all the staff attending us in Ward 2A and 2B. My sister, who has had a great deal of nursing experience, said that she had never come across such care and attentiveness. When my mother was transferred to the Palliative Care unit, the staff came in to say goodbye to her. This, for my sister, was unheard of in any previous hospital she had worked in.

We would like to thank all the staff who attended our mother, Wards 2A & 2B, the Intensive Care nurse, who despite the very difficult time for us, was kind, thoughtful and informative, the social worker was able to assist us in sorting out car parking, the registrar who was the go between for the family and surgical team, and was able to answer our questions.

As you can imagine, when you hear that your mother is unwell, and within a month she has died, the shock and sadness makes for a very difficult time. Yet the care our mother received and the concern from the staff for all of us, made this time just a little bit more bearable. Thank you.

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