Mother Anxiety

I just called my mother. She sounded okay, but wanted to pass me onto her visitors pretty sharpish as though, as my uncle says, the phone were a hot brick.

I was very worried when one of them told me they had had been greeted by staff saying Mother had had several accidents yesterday and had had to have four showers, so they were not to give her anything to eat.

There was no mention of a doctor, or any medical attention at all. The acting manager is not about. I’ve received no information about this. So I’m writing this post partly to distract myself while I wait for an answer to my flagged email or for Mother’s visitors to get more information from staff on duty.

Generally my mother is fairly hungry. She should eat little and often. She enjoys the scrambled egg her visitors make her every Saturday for elevenses and I really want to know if there’s a medical reason why she shouldn’t have it, or if it’s a high-handed decision made by one of the staff.

Author: Isobel

I like animals, colour, the Thames, reading, cooking, writing, eating, walking I don't like bullies, butchers' shops, crowded public transp

23 thoughts on “Mother Anxiety”

  1. No email or ‘phone call yet.
    if I am not to waste the entire day fretting by phone and computer I shall have to get on and hope someone enlightens me soon.
    Fingers crossed.

  2. Phone them now. Put your mind at rest.
    I they haven’t asked for a medical opinion ask them explain how she is in herself to see if you think this is needed.
    Make sure they are giving her plenty of fluids to compensate for fluid lost.
    An email will only be seen the next time someone goes into the office

  3. How worrying for you Isobel, but I agree with Nym. See if you can speak to someone.
    It doesn’t sound too serious but it would be helpful to have some more information.

  4. Hmm! Isobel. I’m not sure you’d welcome my advice… but if I were in your position, I’d be on the phone asking them what the **** do they think they are playing at. I certainly would not wait for them to respond to an e-mail.

    So your mother had four accidents yesterday – and they are starving her? Good heavens – that’s ‘Abuse of the Elderly’.

  5. I absolutely agree about the ‘phone, except that no one answers it. So my mother’s visitors were going to ask staff and I emailed so we had a two-pronged approach.
    I just got an email which made it clear it was not a medical decision but one taken unilaterally by staff so I have told them to feed my mother and to keep her fluid intake up, also never to withhold food and drink unless a doctor has seen her and so advised.
    What worries me most is that had my aunt and my mother’s friend not visited this morning I would know nothing about this. An urgent call is needed with the manager – who is not there.
    We’re between a rock and a hard place.
    Although the level of care is way below the standard I expect, I also know it’s above the standard many elderly people receive.

  6. Isobel; what a nightmare! I’d be wanting to know what medical basis there was for withholding food. It’s never ending for you, isn’t it? Unfortunately, I possess such little experience in these matters that I can’t be of much help., apart from to say, keep on at them and don’t let them away with it.

  7. I feel for you Isobel. Nothing worse than sitting waiting for email or phone call.

    Hope you get to speak to the manager soon. As Pseu says, it’s important she’s offered drinks.

  8. I assume Isobel that your mother is in residential care – and I’m also assuming that she is not sufficiently near for you to visit and bang on desks. Works a treat! I don’t know whether she is in a private or public facility. What I do know is that she is entitled to be cared for properly, they have no right to withhold food, and you are entitled to be kept informed of what is going on.

    My mother tells me that ‘Abuse of the Elderly’ is a key issue at the moment in the UK… I’m in the process of complaining about my mother’s treatment by the NHS, not only her treatment (or rather non-treatment) but the way she has been dealt with as an elderly person (watch this space!)

    I don’t know how good this association is, but give them a go:
    http://www.elderabuse.org.uk/About%20AEA/about_us.htm

    There will be others – Age Concern might have some advice. Don’t accept second best treatment for your Mum… all these people rely on the fact that people do not complain. It’s amazing what happens when you do!!!

  9. There s sometimes logic in not feeding someone if they have a tummy bug, until it settles – down but this sounds a little hit and miss. The reason for the diarrhoea needs to be identified – if it is an acute tummy upset I would think she’d feel unwell with it. If it is another reason that may need investigation. People can develop sensitivities to meds, even if they have been on them for a while for example.

  10. Claire, quite. So having received a rather evasive email from the most senior member of staff on duty I have sent another off, and cced to the higher ups, stating again, and in bold type, that food and liquids are never to withheld from my mother unless a doctor has seen her and so advised. If they have any concerns they should call a doctor.
    My mother is assisted sheltered housing. The assisted part is key. Some of the staff do not do joined up thinking (or writing come to that) so when my mother does something, like opening cans of soup, they put them out of reach, but don’t ask themselves why she is doing it. The same with a stomach upset. We have just about got the Gluten Free sorted and are targeting hygiene. My mother’s washing up bottles last an incredibly long time. When we can be sure that the diet is right and her plates etc and bathroom are clean, if she still has stomach upsets it’s probably time to look at her meds.
    I have complained so long and so loudly Boadicea I am not going to give up now. But when the acting manager is around there is an improvement. It’s a bit of a shock to see how it collapses when he’s away.
    I have told them before that some of their actions are neglectful and that is tantamount to abuse. I don’t think they get it, despite the posters they have displayed around the place.
    The Alzheimer’s Society was very helpful when I contacted it.
    Good luck with the hospital complaints. My mother’s local hospital was appalling a few years ago, and without the interventions of my aunt and myself my mother would most certainly have died. However, when she was admitted last spring and I visited her, I was amazed at the transformation. The staff were wonderful. The ward was clean. The only problem was my mother had helped herself to someone else’s dentures but nobody knew whose!

  11. I’m with Bo on this,
    I also wonder if she is sufficiently compus mentis to stay in an assisted living facility?
    With ongoing degenerative diseases has it become the time that she should live in a proper home?
    I think you should consider moving her to a higher level of care facility.
    A dreadful responsibility for you but it can’t go on like this it is wearing you to a frazzle, you will end up ill yourself and that isn’t going to help anyone!

  12. Isobel; it sounds like a logistical nightmare for you to deal with, especially from a distance…I would just keep on with the emails and phone calls, and try to get there as often as you can. If none of this seems to be working, and knowing, as you do, the power of the press, it might not be a bad idea to subtly remind them that you are a working journalist, currently writing a double page spread on the quality of care for the elderly…
    I do remember the time, a few years ago, when my granddad was taken into a higher level residential care home. He had a few bad falls in assisted care, and was prone to epileptic fits, so it was thought that, for his own safety, it had to be a residential home. But even though it was round the clock care, I don’t think, from what I recall, that the quality of it was great. I was only 25 and not really sure if I was actually seeing what I was seeing…but I think his condition worsened rapidly after going into higher level care, and one of my greatest regrets is not having spoken out for him. So sorry to contradict the others, but I would be very wary of higher level care. Good luck and hope you manage to get something sorted.

  13. I echo your view, Claire about higher level care. All your reasons are sound, plus the additional distress caused by a change in surroundings. Whilst I understand where Christina is coming from, it a difficult call for Isobel to make.

  14. My apologies, Isobel, if you thought I was trying to teach you to suck eggs! I see from Claire’s comment that you are ideally placed to put more than a bit of fear into them!

    My grandmother went into full time care – it was pretty dreadful. But my mother went in virtually every single day and ‘inspected’ the place… it rapidly improved!

    I’m not hopeful of improving the hospital. If a Panorama programme hasn’t succeeded, I doubt that my efforts will. My mother wants them to know that they can’t get away with treating her the way they did – and they are certainly finding out that there are some elderly people that will not tolerate being treated simply as lumps of flesh.

  15. Thanks for all your comments. I appreciate them. They help to clarify my own thoughts.
    On paper all the care is there. There is no reason to believe if we moved Mother elsewhere the care would be any better, unless of course we paid for one of the top flight private places, and we have about enough money for her her stay in one of those for about a day.
    The place where she is is set up for people with dementia. She’s still quite active and not ready for a care home. She settled in very well and made friends. The original manager was hopeless, out of his depth and he let things slide to an alarmimg degree while doing quite a good cover up job. My endless questions and emails are one of the reasons he is not there anymore. You can imagine how popular this makes me with some of the staff who were doing v little under his regime. However, the new management is listening and working hard to build good teams and get them working well. After jumping up and dwon for so long, I want to work with this new management because I can see some improvements. I know they have a two year plan in operation so they are aware that there is no quick fix. The senior member of staff yesterday was v pally with the ex-manager.
    The sad thing about our society is that more people are not outraged by the way the elderly are treated. It’sd not new. There’s a lot of guff spoken about how the elderly would be looked after by their families, where they were often seen as an encumbrance and neglected just as much in their own homes.

    I’ve thought about trying to get a piece on this matter commissioned, but when I consider who is likely to commission me it would probably be like preaching to the converted. Maybe one day.

    I’m off out shortly to enjoy this glorious day.
    Plan to post later but on my own page.

  16. isobel
    It’s a bit of a tightrope we walk when we have to consign an elderly loved one to the care of others. We are torn between ‘ not rocking the boat’ and banging the desk to get answers but at the end of the day you must let your gut feeling be your guide. In my case it was my lovely Father in Law who ended his days in the care of the NHS. There was care and love from the regular staff on the ward he was consigned to but the problems always arose with the temporary staff at weekends. In the end I had to turn up one day and threaten the Doctor in charge of my Father in Law with a select committee in Parliament that I said I was about to give evidence to, absolute cobblers but she almost kacked herself and things changed for the better after a meeting with her and the hospital administrator. What I’m saying isobel is make friends with the hands on staff and kick the managers if they are not doing their job. Oh, and by the way, the people at the top HATE people turning up wearing suits, especially if they start taking notes of conversations at meetings, it rattles them and gains their attention.

  17. Thanks OMG, good advice. I’m quite friendly with some of the staff but others are beyond me. I think I am in quite a strong position with management at the moment and they have got to keep working on the staff. They have told me that they welcome my feedback and comments, good and bad, as they won’t see everything that I do. Also my aunt has agreed to talk to the manager now. This is a breakthrough, as she has always fought shy of doing so before.
    Yes, I’m good at whipping out the notebook in meetings.It’s also a point in favour of emails, to leave a paper trail. So I usually follow up phone calls with an email too. Jolly time-consuming though.
    I like the select committe idea.

  18. Gosh, Isobel, how worrying and frustrating for you. Lots of good advice here and you seem to be coping admirably, so I have nothing to add which would be of help. I do hope your mother is feeling better now. Any news?

  19. Thanks Bilby and Levent.
    I hope I get to speak to the acting manager this week, but it’s going to be tricky as I am v tied up and it’s not the sort of conversation I want to have on my m obile in a public place.
    But I shall be seeing Mum next weekend for Mothering Sunday (though I’ll be there Saturday).
    I was with a friend today who works in social services with people with mental health issues and she echoed Boadicea, saying it was elder abuse, out of ignorance rather than design, but abuse all the same.

  20. Thanks for the update, Isobel. Very sad you have the ongoing worry and stress of keeping these people on their toes, just to provide basic good care for your mother. Good luck and I hope you both have a happy day on Saturday.

  21. Thanks Bilby. I have faith in the acting manager, but it’ll take a while to get all the staff working as they should. I’m sure we’ll have a good day Saturday.

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