Bryan lives on his own at his home in Torrington. He suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease which can make it difficult for him to breath; this is generally managed with inhalers. In November 2013 Bryan suffered a severe flare up of his condition and became very unwell. “I remember feeling very poorly, I felt dizzy all the time” describes Bryan “I wasn’t able to speak very well and my mental and physical processes were in shreds. I couldn’t do anything for myself and frankly felt that I was on deaths door.” Bryan’s daughter contacted his GP and Bryan was referred to the rapid response service. Bryan received twice daily visits from the District Nurses and as his condition improved occupational and physiotherapists also visited to support him with his rehabilitation. Bryan received the rapid response service for 6 weeks.
“My overall reaction to the whole care package and the people who contributed to it was very positive indeed and above my expectations, especially with all the furore there has been about closing down the beds in the cottage hospital (where I have previously been as a patient). This care package for me was about the most thorough that I could conceivably have expected. There was no need for hospital because I would have just gone through the same processes there as I did here. I really didn’t expect it.”
“I was bedridden for 3 weeks and all sorts of clinical things had to happen to me all of which were carried out with total respect. I was provided with oxygen to help me with my breathing difficulties and after lying flat for all that time I became very weak. It must have taken a full month before I felt competent to get out of bed and stand up and hobble with the aid of my walking stick to the bath and shower. I was dispirited by it because I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere at all. But I encouraged by the people who visited me, which was great. They over-came the misery that I was feeling! It took six weeks before I was really ready to face the open air again.”
“The only thing I would fault is the lack of coordination between the people who provide the services. I was astonished at how many people were involved with me and found it, and still find it extremely difficult to identify the origins of the various elements of the care package that I received. Of the people who came to see me there are only two that I can recall who were consistent with one another. I had twice daily visits, but I never knew who was going to arrive, at what time or what they were expecting to do. I know that each new person announced who they were and where they came from when they arrived, but my ability to take in that information was very limited because I was not mentally capable of putting it all together – if I had had any sort of Alzheimer’s it would have been very confusing.”
“The first five or six days were very laborious as I had to dictate the same thing to a different person twice per day! I couldn’t quarrel with the intention of this because it was very clear that they were trying to get a clear picture of the condition I was in, and what I was experiencing, but it was frustrating especially as I was feeling pretty awful and the last thing I wanted was to have to be repetitious; it seemed that they were only concerned with their own specialism and did not talk to each other.”
“From the point of view of the recipient this is all a bit unnerving. What you need as a receiver of care, in whatever form it takes, is confidence in it, and if you feel that nobody is talking to anybody else it doesn’t boost your confidence at all. A lead person would be helpful for the whole process – like a care coordinator, they could leave the patient with a map of who is coming from where and when if possible – it would indicate to the patient who to call at any one stage. I was in no doubt though that if I did need to call, someone would come.”
Bryan explains that there were two folders kept at his home that were written in each time someone came to visit him; towards the end of his care plan, anyone who came to see him would read what the previous people had written. “I couldn’t fault having this long narrative all about what had happened, but it was never open to me – maybe because I didn’t ask.”
“That’s my over-all impression anyway. No one comes to see me anymore, I am totally discharged! I wouldn’t say I feel as strong as I did before this thing hit me, and I do things a little more slowly now and with more care. Nevertheless it all worked and it worked to the time table I was anticipating, and I am back on the job now and doing the things that I enjoy. Personally, in my present and immediate past state I would feel very confident to be treated at home because the people I have been concerned with have been remarkable.”
I have to say that nationally the care profession do not get the best kind of treatment so far as Torrington and the NHS in Torrington is concerned. From my experience it is all rubbish as the people I have been concerned with have been remarkable. I didn’t appreciate it at all the care I could have at home. The changes I would suggest are about reassurance and how care is delivered, it is not about the level of care.