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Undignified Care - actions speak louder than words

(as a relative),


This is a new story (less than two weeks old)

About: St John of God Geelong Hospital

My father has recently been an inpatient at St John of God Hospital in Geelong. It has been an emotional roller-coaster time for my whole family with my father being admitted following a fall and then being deemed to require residential care - all within one week.

My main concern is about his loss of dignity over seven days. The St John of God Vision talks about fullness and richness of life and, "... give them a reason to hope and a greater sense of their own dignity." Sadly. this was not my father's (nor my own) experience. My father was living at home and fully continent prior to his fall. However, the nursing staff insisted that my father wore 'pull-up' continence aids during his time in the hospital. Further, having advised staff myself that these were not required and possibly the cause of exacerbated skin excoriation, he was made to continue to wear them and much to my dismay was wearing them again on the day of transfer to his new home in residential care. It was most undignified - from living at home to continence aids and then to residential care.

In addition to this, my father has Parkinsons Disease (PD). Staff did not appear to understand the importance of him receiving his medication on time. On the day of his transfer to his new home (when it was so much more important to get this right for him to be mobile), his 10 am medication for PD was brought at 11 am.  I asked the nurse why this was so and they responded with, "no, that's okay, we have one hour leeway, it shouldn't make a difference". I advised the nurse that it did matter and was concerned that this was the nurse's response as it appeared to dismiss the experience of someone who had been taking this medication (with a three hourly alarm set through the day) for many years. It also dismissed the research which supports the need for on-time medications to maximise function. I raised this with the manager later by phone and whilst seeking to share my concern with them, they told me that the nurse must have been busy. I believe that it was such an insensitive and non-patient-centred response. In my opinion, their knowledge and practice were more significant than my experience. It was very disappointing.

I understand that mistakes can happen and that there can be a breakdown in communication. However, in order to improve, one has to also be receptive to feedback.  I gave feedback directly to staff and to the manager but nothing changed and it is this which has brought me to share my story. I want to feel heard and I hope this channel will enable me to achieve that. After all, actions speak louder than words. Thank you.

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