Lack of understanding of mental health issues

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Jazzy, Aug 12, 2006.

  1. Jazzy

    Jazzy Registered User

    Jun 3, 2006
    I have posted 2 or 3 times before about my Mum and wondered if anyone has experienced what I have this afternoon. Mum had been in a wonderful ward for people with dementia with helpful and understanding staff. My only concern was that they couldn't get her medication balanced and she was either very agitated or nearly asleep. Last week she fell and broke her hip and is now in an orthopaedic ward in a large general hospital.

    My concern is over the lack of inderstanding of mental health issues. When I arrived this afternoon her tablets were still by her bed, as the staff hadn't been able to get here to take them. So I queried this and they were pleased when she took them from me. Mind you, it took me 20 minutes. I was then concerned because she was really thirsty - the staff hadn't been able to ge her to drink and there was no sign of a drip.

    Throughout the afternoon she had got more and more agitated and was in torment. The staff said she'd been like that during the night and the morning. Why don't they seek help from a doctor? The nurse in charge this afternoon seemed out of his depth and I think he found me an annoyance. I asked if there was a psychiatrist who could see Mum because I was very worried about her. He did make a call, and said a doctor would see her today. On leaving I found out that this will be an orthopaedic specialist, who will then get a psychiatrist if necessary. A sister then came on duty and was very helpful and did give Mum some medication to ease the pain and it did calm her down.

    What concerns me is that I initiated most of what was dome fo Mum. What if I hadn't been there? She is also blind and profoundly deaf and can't communicate very well.

    First thing on Monday I shall be making an appointment to see a doctor. Nobody as yet has approached me as next of kin to give me any information or to ask for any. I can't be the only one who has experienced this.....?

    I would find any comments helpful.

  2. dmc

    dmc Registered User

    Mar 13, 2006
    Seeking reassurance re feeding
    by jeannette

    hi jazzy
    i was wondering if youve read the thread above it sounds a lot like what your going through at the moment,
    i had the same type of problems when mum had to be moved to a general ward for a chest infection there is no place for them they either have to be in a dementia ward where they cant be treated for infections or breaks or in a general ward where they have limited knowledge of the disease:confused:
    the mind boggles.
  3. Jazzy

    Jazzy Registered User

    Jun 3, 2006
    Hi Donna

    Thanks for the reply and for pointing me to the other thread. It does answer some questions and poses lots of others. It's a complex issue. This afternoon my Mum knew I was there and was trying to make her wishes known by becoming agitated. But if I'm not there, I wonder who notices? Every now and then she says something really coherent and this afternoon it was that she wanted die. It just makes me feel really powerless. The difference in care from this ward to the specialist demantia ward is so wide. But I shall keep on being an advocate for Mum and makes sure she gets the care she needs.
  4. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    Hi Jazzy

    in my experience many hospitals are better suited to treating diverse sulphur-based alien species than people with dementia, mostly because something entirely new they will try to figure out then treat.

    A person who has dementia looks like anyone else to hospital medical staff, who assume they are like everyone else, able to do things, and then leave them to do everything a normal person would do.

    So often we need to figure out what needs to be done, then explain that to medical staff as if it were they who were mentally challenged.

    That's the reality of life, unfortunately...
  5. dmc

    dmc Registered User

    Mar 13, 2006
    im afraid at the end of the day, it is the carers who have to take it upon themselves to look out for their loved ones, ive learnt such a lot in such a short space of time as mum was only diagnosed in february but weve had to fight every inch of the way to make sure she was getting the care she needed and deserved and were still doing it.
    i dont think we can assume just becouse our loved ones are hospitalized that the care they get will be 100%
    ive pointed out in the last few weeks how depressed mum is and its only now the consultant had decided she needs antidepressants they might not work but then again they might if i hadnt approached them would they have done anything we'll never know
    take care
  6. Jazzy

    Jazzy Registered User

    Jun 3, 2006
    feeling better about everything now

    Hi Donna and Brucie

    Thank you very much for your helpful comments and support. I'm feeling a bit calmer now and will call the hospital shortly to see how things are. Fortunately, all this has coincided with 2 weeks leave from work, so I can be there for Mum.

  7. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Hiya Jazzy!

    Glad you are feeling better already! Hope this continues to help and not hinder!!!

    I thought I had seen the best and worse of NHS and even private care over the last 18 years or so.... but mum having dementia has opened my eyes to a whole new world....

    Why offer her transport when she doesn't understand where she is going or why? Why point her to a 'changing room' for a scan when she doesn't understand what 'changing is?.... I have attended a Radiology Department with mum where I have had to help two other 'senior' ladies' 'de-robe' - so grateful to trust a total stranger to help them and relinquish any embarrassment because there is no nurse/auxliary to support the service......

    I absolutely commend the NHS for all it has done for my family over the years..... but providing services like transport and a certain 'quota' of nursing staff just doesn't hack it, does it?

    One of my biggest 'gripes' these last few months is that mum has six different consultants - all can see her full medical history and notes from each others' clinics - EXCEPT from the psycho-geriatrician - because the MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE stands alone from the main hospital Trust..... if I wasn't with her to mention 'mum is now under the care of a psycho-geriatrician' .... at which point you can visibly 'see' the consultation move in a whole different direction....

    Yes, 'fraid we have to shout for those who can't..... Jazzy, you're so right - we DO have to be advocates.....

    Right before I'm in danger of getting on my biggest soap-box ever :eek: .. Jazzy - you have two weeks leave? My hope for you is that you find some time for yourself...... know only too well taking 'leave' means less 'peace' than ever....

    Look after yourself, let us know how you get on.... and please know that 'we' (or 'me') are here for you,

    Much love, Karen, (TF), x
  8. Norman

    Norman Registered User

    Oct 9, 2003
    Birmingham Hades
    It is a sad fact of life that medical students are taught next to nothing about dementia and dementia patients.
    Until this is addressed I am afraid we will continue to find situations such as you describe.
    My wife was admitted to a general hospital ,some years ago ,following a TIA,It seems that she got dressed 3 times in the night. The next morning I was asKed did I know that my wife had a problem?
    I understand there are moves to include more training for medical students about dementia.
    I was asked to talk to a third year medical student about dementia,the GP who asked me said I was the expert not him.
    Keep waving the flag
  9. jarnee

    jarnee Registered User

    Mar 18, 2006
    Hi Jazzy,

    No. I don't think you are alone in this....sadly !!

    When my mum was admitted to hospital, 6 weeks before she died of cancer, she had 3 falls and her leg swelled to twice it's normal size. She was not eating and barely drinking and started talking utter rubbish. She told the staff I was her sister and in the middle of a conversation she would say stuff like, "Oh yes, that's the time when we had a good stanley knife" and other random sentences.
    I spoke to the staff, who said they'd noticed it too. AND DONE NAFF ALL !!!!
    She was given an appointment to see a psychiatrist...they thought she was depressed (errrr, let's think, her husband of 40 ish years had suddenly gone into care cos of AD and she was in the last few weeks of life having fought cancer for 15 years and been his carer and knew she would NEVER see him don't need a psych to tell me she's depressed)

    Anyway, the ward clerk brought the appointment card to her and dropped it onto the bed, "You have an appointment on Thursday" was all she said. Fortunately, mum's friend ( a nurse from another hosp) was there and went after the clerk.

    Mum's treatment was a disgrace, quite frankly.

    UNTIL....she went into a hospice for the final 3 weeks. WOW, WOW, WOW What a difference. There she was CARED for. WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL people

    Anyway, my point is. I don't think your experience is a one off.
    My Mum was exhibiting strange behaviour (hospice did a scan and it turned out she'd had a number of small strokes....hence the falls etc which also led her to talk nonsense and become confused) and the normal hospital just couldn't/didn't cope with it/make allowances/ try to find out why/try to help at all

    :mad: :mad: :mad:

  10. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    Other patients seemed to know more about dementia than hospital staff (perhaps from experience with their own relations)
  11. noelphobic

    noelphobic Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    The last time my mum was in hospital I found that the other patients 'looked out' for her a lot. My experiences with the staff were mixed but I was grateful that the other patients were keeping an eye on her, even though they shouldn't have had to. I think my mum's saving grace is that people tend to warm to her and she comes across as very amiable. I do sometimes think that if someone is very belligerent, because of their dementia or otherwise, then maybe they wouldn't be looked out for as well. I'm not saying that that is right, just that it's human nature.

    There was a lady in the next bed to her who kept undressing herself. One day her grandson (late teens or early twenties) came to see her on his own and unfortunately she was half dressed when he arrived. He seemed like a very quiet and polite young man and had to go and find a member of staff to help. I couldn't really blame the staff entirely for that at all - short of someone standing over her 24/7 or sedating her to a dangerous level then I don't see how it could be completely avoided. I did feel sorry for this young man though as I know how distressing it would have been for my own son to find himself in that situation with his grandmother.
  12. Lonestray

    Lonestray Registered User

    Aug 3, 2006
    Lack of understanding

    From my first dealings with hospitals, a nursing home and our GP I have found a total lack of understanding when it came to treating my wife. Medical staff totaly failed to understand the best way to treat my wife was to include me in all aspects of her treatment. When she broke her arm she walked into the ambulance. At the hospital I stayed with her while we waited for her to be treated. It was time to change her pad when a member of staff called for her to be treated. I had to insist on changing her first. I was then told "You can't come with her" as they moved her to the operating theater. I disagreed, when I explained the situation to the doctor, he agreed with me, and told the staff to leave. He asked me to reassure her before 'putting her under'. I remained with her from the time of the accident 11.00 hrs to 20.00hrs. and saw her settled in the ward. I received a call the next morning, telling me my wife won't talk nor eat. "Of course she won't, she's lost in a strange place and is frightened". A decision was made to move her to a cottage hospital nearer to our place. There she was always asleep in a chair when I visited, once she was soaked with urine dripping to the floor. I asked the staff to try keeping her walking they said ther were but I didn't think so. While trying to encourge her to walk I was reported to the the sister who reminstrated with me. A doctor asked of my concerns I explained I was worried she might stop walking. His attempts at reasuring me failed. At the end of her four week stay she was due for a week's respite. She never walked again! On arrival at the respit centre the person in charge called me into the office and asked "Why has your wife been given Tm? (drug)" I can't recall the name of the drug but asked what it was. It was to keep her quiet! She told me she was very upset as my wife is such a quiet gentle person. "You'er upset? I'm outraged". From the respite centre she was to visit the hospital before returning home. What happened then is so unbelieveable. Suffice to say no arrangements were made to get her home and when home no support. After a week of trying to cope our daughter intervened seeing I was cracking up. Suddenly nurses doctors etc arrived at her house and I was forced to accept Jean being put in a nursing home for a week while I recovered. After a spell in the nursing home her condition got worse and I felt I had little option but to let go and have her transfered to an other nursing home. That would be the sixth move for her in almost as many weeks. Little did I know then my problems were only starting. There was much more but too long to go into. In the end the physical and mental damage inflicted on my wife was left to me to pick up. Happly I took full control by removing her from the nursing home in time, and in spite of her loosing speech and body movement we both are doing fine. Is it any wonder I don't allow anyone near her except our two children to visit. God bles you carers out there. Padraig
  13. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    My mother had a whole day of tests in January (as a result of neighbours phoning GP's), at the end of which the doctors said there was nothing wrong with her ("it's just old age"). I'm sure all the patients in the waiting-room knew what was wrong with her, after listening to a bit of her conversation. They were all elderly and had a variety of disabilities and illnesses but they didn't have dementia.
  14. Jazzy

    Jazzy Registered User

    Jun 3, 2006

    Hi everyone

    A big thank you for all the replies. It's been a real support that you have felt able to share your experinces with me. I'm hoping that last Saturday afternoon was a one off, because since then things have improved. When I visited on Monday I saw someone from mental health who reviewed Mum's medication and didn't treat me as if I was about 6. So that was realy heartening. During the week Mum has become less agitated and we've even had some vaguely meaningful conversations. In fatc her mental health has been the best it's been for over 2 months!

    Thanks again for your support.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.