"Our elderly parent's ICU experience."

About: Bunbury Hospital

(as a relative),

Our precious elderly parent was a patient in BRH (Bunbury Hospital). The support & care up until - one night in particular was brilliant - just couldn't fault it. My parent was transferred to ICU and we had exceptional care from the doctors and nurses, until the following night when we felt my parent was abruptly addressed by a person who said - I'm (name) and I will be nursing you tonight. No smile - no hello - (when I first saw this nurse I smiled when I caught her eye - no interest or smile returned from them). Our parent is hard of hearing and turned to me and said - What did she say? I repeated what the nurse had said. This nurse and I believe her abrupt style of nursing really upset my parent within the first 5 minutes. My parent had to yell at the nurse, as my parent needed tissues to wipe her mouth each time she coughed up phlegm. My parent had the tissues just laying on her on the blanket and apparently they were not in the position that the nurse wanted. We were advised that we were not to stay any later than 8.30 pm even though the night before we were able to sit quietly with our parent until 1 am. We understand that ICU is for critically ill patients and to that end we were always quiet and we kept out of the way when needed.

My sibling (who is next of kin), returned around 8.20pm to sit with our parent while I went out to sit in the lounge area to eat my evening meal.

This is my sibling's story:

I went in to sit with my parent for a few hours. I went to their bed and my parent did not look happy.

As I was asking my parent how they were, the same nurse walked around the end of the bed and I said hello I'm (name) and put my hand out to shake hers. She ignored my hand, did not look at me and I felt quite sharply said, I'm (name), I will be assessing your parent and you will be asked to step outside. I said there's no need for that as my parent is hard of hearing and I can explain to my parent what it is that you are going to do and that way they will understand and not get distressed. The nurse said well visiting hours are almost over and you will be leaving. I informed her that we had been staying with my parent till around 12 and then come back again at 6 in the morning. She told me in what I felt was a rude voice that this will not be happening, my parent needs to rest, and there is no clinical reason for you to be here, that my parent was stable and walked out. I waited until she came back then I was told to step out. I went out and stood around the corner. I could hear her speaking to my parent and it was in a tone that was very unpleasant and certainly would not be putting my parent at ease. I heard her several times raise her voice. The next thing I heard her say to my parent is, seeing as you are having difficulty in swallowing, I will give you the really strong liquid analgesic, is that alright. I heard my parent say, I suppose so, which meant they hadn't understood and had no idea what was going to happen. Up till this point, when my parent said that, one of us would explain to my parent what was going to happen.

The next thing the coordinator, came to where I was standing and asked me what I was doing. I explained the situation to her and she said we have very strict rules here regarding visitors and having people in ICU. She apologised that we had not been given a copy of the rules on arrival. She told me that my parent needed rest as they were having an operation tomorrow. I said we have been told that my parent was in for surgery the day after that. No, she said it was tomorrow. I said well there is all sorts of things to discuss before anything happens, like consent to be given and discussion on the effects of the anaesthetic for someone in my parent's condition. She replied that we would have to sort that with the doctor's in the morning and that she would retract the statement regarding my parent's operation as she had not yet had time to read my parent's notes. The coordinator told me several times that she had patients deteriorating while she was talking to me, one over there pointing to another room, not just there, the room next to my parent, and one down there pointing to the far end. One of the rooms had a nurse and two aids, the person in there was on the bed pan. While we were talking, a nurse walked past us to the room being discussed and asked the nurse in my parent's room if she needed a hand in there as she had nothing to do. If patients are deteriorating all over the show a nurse would not be walking around saying she had nothing to do. The coordinator asked me if we had used one of the resident rooms the previous evening. I said yes, we had, and we would like to avail ourselves of the room again, if at all possible. The coordinator said those rooms are for emergencies only and they had one coming in. I understand there are 4 rooms. 

The coordinator told me to please make sure to call at any time if I was worried about my parent or just wanted to know how they were going. The coordinator waited while I called my sibling in. We went to say goodnight to my parent and to explain to them that we would not be staying. I told my parent we were not able to stay with them and my parent looked at me with a sad face and said, Oh no. I said we were not allowed back in until 10 am tomorrow morning. My parent was quite sad - but resigned. What is making it doubly hard for my parent is their spouse of 67 years is in another hospital with pneumonia.

My sister and I left and sat in the ICU lounge discussing our options. We were confused as to the date of the operation and were trying to work out a plan as we have siblings in three other states that need to be kept informed of my parent's progress and what decisions are being made.

My parent had quite a few tests during the afternoon, CT scan, x-ray’s, that sort of thing so doctors would be able to make a plan of attack. I then rang ICU, the coordinator had earlier given me the number, got put through to the coordinator and asked her for an update on my parent's test results. She said who told you that you can get that, and I have patients deteriorating while I'm talking to you. I said I understand you are busy, but I need some information so we can begin to make a plan if the operation is to be tomorrow and if the tests showed blood clots in my parent's lungs then we need to be prepared for that and we would stay the night in the waiting room taking it in turns to snooze on the couch. That way, if something happened to my parent we would be close at hand. 

The coordinator then told me she would see if she could drag a doctor away from the critically ill patients they were dealing with to call me and attend to my request. She asked me to call back in 15 minutes and she would get the doctor to the phone. I thought seeing as they were so busy, and I would not like the critically ill patient to be left so the doctor could talk to me - so I rang back after 25 minutes. The coordinator answered, and I got put through to the lovely kind doctor who explained my parent's test results to us. Thank you to this doctor.

I rang the hospital at 5.18 am the following morning to inquire after my parent. I was put through to someone who did not give a name until I asked for it. It was the nurse mentioned earlier in my story. I asked her how my parent was - the answer was, sleeping. I said Ok, has she had a good night? The nurse told me my parent had settled just after we left and had slept most of the night, that she had rolled my parent a couple of times and they were fine. Of course, my parent would settle as they had received the strong pain killer about 20 minutes before we left. I then asked the nurse had she been kind and gentle to my parent, she replied yes. I then asked has my parent been distressed to which she replied, no she has been sleeping. I said thank you and she hung up.

We are far from impressed with the attitudes, and rudeness we feel we've been shown by these two individuals, particularly the nurse as we had to leave our elderly, frightened  parent with a person whose manner we believe is far from conducive to healing and the compassionate side of nursing that is so important to the general well-being of patients. I am sad really, as this has marred an otherwise lovely experience of kindness and compassion. 


Response from Yvonne Bagwell, Coordinator of Nursing and Midwifery, Bunbury Hospital, WACHS - South West nearly 2 years ago
Yvonne Bagwell
Coordinator of Nursing and Midwifery, Bunbury Hospital,
WACHS - South West
Submitted on 17/10/2018 at 16:56
Published on Care Opinion at 17:25

Dear Magpienr54

Thank you for you feedback posted on Patient Opinion regarding your elderly mother’s uncompassionate ICU treatment. I was saddened to read the concerns that you have raised.

I would appreciate it if you would contact Glen Matters (Operations Manager) or myself (Yvonne Bagwell) Coordinator of Nursing, on 9722 1422, so that we can ascertain some more detail, to enable us to investigate and address. If it was suitable to you, I would like to meet with you so that we can fully investigate your experience.

Yvonne Bagwell

Coordinator of Nursing & Midwifery

Bunbury Hospital

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

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