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"Lack of compassion"

About: Busselton Health Campus / General Ward

(as a friend),

I write for a friend and their elderly parent who recently had an unpleasant experience at Busselton Hospital while visiting their adult child, a person with a debilitating and life-limiting condition who is receiving palliative care.

This is my understanding of the event as reported by my friend's parent. The patient, a Bunbury resident, had been initially admitted to the SJOG Bunbury Palliative Care Unit, then transferred to a different hospital for care awaiting placement. The staff at that hospital were caring, however, family and friends were not able to visit as often as they wanted to from Bunbury. My friend was transferred to Busselton Hospital to be closer to Bunbury. My friend's parent no longer drives and is dependent upon family to visit. 

Recently, my friend's parent and their sibling visited my friend. During the visit, two more friends arrived for a visit. At the time I understand that the family were discussing my friend's housing and possible future care arrangements.

The two new visitors were followed into the room by a hospital employee (initially thought to be a nurse but may have been a PCA/orderly), who advised that only two people could visit at one time. My friend's parent asked if they could stay to continue the discussion, hoping to seek input from one of the new visitors.

The hospital employee reiterated that only two visitors were allowed at one time in what I understand was a brusque and authoritarian manner. The interaction continued with my friend's parent eventually advising that they would leave.

During the discussion, the hospital employee told the parent that they had already visited earlier in the week, oh and there is washing for you to take home. My friend's elderly parent left in tears. 

Where was the compassion in this instance? The employee from the commencement of the discussion seemingly came with a clear intention and was not prepared to hear. While I understand the need for visiting hours, the Busselton Hospital visiting hours at the time between 3.00 and 8.00 pm are very restrictive in my opinion. There doesn't seem to be any consideration for patients and their families who are receiving care awaiting placement when family and friends need to travel from home to another community. I also question the strict restriction on visitors for a person who is in a single room who by all accounts is waiting to die. Surely if the stringent rule is to be followed, it could have been administered in a more caring, respectful and compassionate manner. 

My friend's parent is an amazing and independent person, they are supporting their adult child who has made a decision for palliative care, and may well die before their parent. It takes a lot for them to be bought to tears.

My friend's parent is available to discuss this unfortunate incident.

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Response from Daniel Anderson, Coordinator of Nursing and Midwifery, Busselton Hospital, WACHS - South West 3 months ago
Daniel Anderson
Coordinator of Nursing and Midwifery, Busselton Hospital,
WACHS - South West
Submitted on 01/09/2021 at 17:00
Published on Care Opinion on 02/09/2021 at 08:16

Dear silverwarecy97,

Thank you for taking the time to post to Care Opinion on behalf of your friend. What you have described does not reflect the values that Busselton Hospital or WA Country Health Service wish to see delivered to our patients or carers. We are however still operating in a State of Emergency and the local management of the current phase does have restrictions in place specifically to reduce the risk of harm to our patients. There are alternatives that could have been explored to assist you in being able to participate in a group discussion and I apologise that these were not offered to the group at the time and that there was a lack of compassion in the communication.

I can appreciate that these restrictions may generate challenges and I would be happy to discuss this with your friend, if they would like to contact me on 9753 6372.

Thank you again for posting and supporting your friend,

Daniel Anderson

Coordinator of Nursing and Midwifery

Busselton Hospital

Mill Street

Busselton WA, 6280

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Update posted by silverwarecy97 (a friend)

Thank you Daniel,

I spoke to my friends parent who advised that Busselton staff had been in contact with the family regarding the event, apologising for the lack of compassion shown by staff. However, my friends parent continued to express concern about the restrictive visiting hours for family and friends where a loved one has been dislocated from their home community, and has asked isn’t it possible for some leniency in these circumstances.

Best wishes.

Response from Daniel Anderson, Coordinator of Nursing and Midwifery, Busselton Hospital, WACHS - South West 3 months ago
Daniel Anderson
Coordinator of Nursing and Midwifery, Busselton Hospital,
WACHS - South West
Submitted on 09/09/2021 at 16:51
Published on Care Opinion at 16:59

Dear silverwarecy97,

Thank you for the follow up post, I'm glad to hear your friends were able to discuss the situation with the ward team at Busselton Hospital. We are always happy to keep working with our patients and carers to come to a mutually positive outcome even in this restrictive environment. We are very lucky to have a capable Patients Entertainment System available at every inpatient bed which includes the capacity for video or virtual visiting.

If preferred we also have a tablet based system. Both of these interfaces have been used successfully to facilitate carer support for a variety of patient and may be something your friends would consider. I'm sure the ward team would be happy to continue engaging with your friend and family.



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