Joyce Goertz’s experience

Joyce lives alone at her home in Dolton; her daughter lives not far from her. Over the last year Joyce has been admitted to both North Devon District and Torrington Hospitals. She has also received care from the district nurses and rapid response teams at home for various problems relating to retention of urine and bowel obstructions.

Before she was admitted to hospital in March 2012, Joyce had been suffering with urine retention problems. Joyce was then admitted to NDDH with a bowel obstruction as well as retention of urine. After two weeks Joyce was discharged home, but was quickly admitted to Torrington Community Hospital after having a fall. “I think I was discharged too early from NDDH” Joyce says “I’d only been home for one night when I had a fall in the middle of the night. I lay on the floor for two hours before I called my daughter! My daughter called my friend who called the GP and I was admitted there die to acute sciatica because of the fall”

“The care I received at Torrington was excellent. I was in a lot of pain and they were never too busy to help me. Quite honestly I do think that the beds are needed for post-operative care or observations – that is when I was in for. I live on my own you see, and I don’t think I could have had the same level of care at home because I was in such a lot of pain. Luckily Torrington was close for my daughter to visit too – she couldn’t have come to Barnstaple for all that time – it cost her a fortune for the time that I was there.”


After two weeks, Joyce was discharged home from Torrington as an outpatient for her initial condition, and between February and December she was supported at home with input from the GP and district nurses. “During this time I went into retention twice – I found it very hard to cope with, and both times I had to be catheterised. Someone even came over to try and teach me how to self-catheterise, but it wasn’t possible, so after my last admission in December 2013 I came out of hospital with a permanent catheter. The District Nurses were brilliant though, so supportive, so good. Now they come every three months to change my catheter, but I know that I can call them whenever.”

In December 2013 Joyce became very unwell again with her condition. “The OT team came over when I was in a lot of pain and assessed my home. While they were here they made arrangements for the home care team to come in to keep me at home. But over the next couple of hours I was admitted to NDDH so I had to call and cancel all the home care they had arranged. When I was discharged from hospital they were supposed to come in but nobody turned up. I don’t know why – maybe because it was Christmas and they were busy. It was OK because I went to my daughter for Christmas and boxing day, and then I was Ok, I just managed on my own.”

Joyce is currently being seen as an outpatient and it is likely that she will require further surgery which she has been told will be quite a big operation. “I don’t know what the aftercare will be if I do have the surgery” Joyce says, “The older you get the longer it takes to recover; I don’t know if I would be able to recover at home, I do have a lot of friends in the village, but they all lead their own lives. The District Nurses are all very nice, but they don’t hang around, because they are busy. My daughter wouldn’t be able to live here, but she would come up. I think she was under the impression that if I did have the surgery I might go to Torrington afterwards”

“It would be good if there were other services at the hospital though. In a village like this where there are young children, how do people cope with going to Barnstaple? It’s easy to get to Torrington. It’s the way forward – that’s the thing isn’t it. I think people worry about if they would have to pay for care as well. I have received good care from the district nurses too. Nothing is too much trouble and if there has been a problem they have always come out straight away. They were fantastic.”

Last updated: October 3, 2017