"The disrespectful treatment of carers by medical personnel"

About: Maitland Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a relative),

After being told by the GP of the person that I care for to take them to the hospital as a medical emergency for treatment, I was left disheartened by the way I, as a carer, was treated. All of the nursing staff were lovely. They couldn't have been more helpful; however, the treating doctors were just rude. As the carer of someone with a moderate hearing impairment, the person that I look after depends on me to help with communication between them and the person speaking to them. As one hearing aid had broken this made communication that much more difficult. When I tried to inform their doctors of the issues that had been affecting them they became a bit snappy. (I understand that they like to get the story from the patient’s mouth, but sometimes they are difficult to understand).

There is no problem with my parent’s (the person that I am a carer for) memory but Dr.1 proceeded to question my parent about where they were and birth dates, including mine. But he then asked my parent if I was a good daughter, which I felt was a little inappropriate. When I tried to add any comments regarding my parent’s care I was completely ignored.

Dr.2 came along and asked more of the same questions. I wanted to know if my parent could use the toilet, shower themselves and walk around the house unaided. My parent told them that they could; I told Dr.2 that sometimes my parent does need help, to which he replied - so you do the cooking and housework, what else do you do? I told him that I also work two days a week, to which he replied - so you basically do the housework and cooking. I didn't bother to reply. To preserve my parent's dignity I didn't tell him that I sometimes have to help them on the toilet and wipe their bottom, to soak and wash their soiled clothes, to empty the urine out of a bucket that they keep near their bed because they can't walk to the toilet because of the pain in their legs and feet. Because carers don't do anything except drive people to appointments, cook and do housework... I found this very upsetting.

In my opinion, the way that these doctors treat people who care for others is appalling; they are so full of their own self-importance that they can't be bothered to show the slightest respect for the family member/s present. To begin with, years ago if a patient was hearing impaired they had a card on their Patient Information Board with a picture of an ear with a backslash through it, to alert the staff that the patient was hearing impaired. This really needs to be put in place again to combat the frustration it causes both patients and staff. I hope to God that I never have to be treated in an emergency department after being subjected to the rudeness of some of its staff today (and no, it didn’t seem that busy).

Doctors are very special people, this is true. However, they are still human beings and should respect the work that other people do. Without your allied health staff, they would be nothing. One more thing, while walking along the corridors I noticed flyers announcing Carers Week and how you support the good work that they do. In my opinion, you clearly don’t support the work of carers, so don't be hypocritical by putting them up.

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