Saturday, 26 September 2015

Wheelchair Services

Living on the Edge of Catastrophe.

Many disabled people and their carers will recognise this state, you just about manage every day with your daily challenges, in our case inaccessible housing, inadequate equipment and of course Hubby’s ongoing medical challenges. Then something happens that threatens to tip you over the precipices of not being able to cope.

Last Tuesday we had a fairly successful reassessment of his wheelchair needs, we think the NHS may just about supply a wheelchair that stands half a chance of meeting his needs. Going to have to wait for it to be built though should get it by Christmas. Not totally convinced but will give it a chance.

So I no sooner ask our GP to write a supporting letter, explaining about Hubby’s medical need for a reclining chair because of his various blood pressure issues, pressure sore relief etc. and disaster strikes, his current wheelchair stops inclining & reclining.  This happens at of course 2:30 am Friday, in the morning. So I call the out of hour’s wheelchair telephone number, no answer. Try again at 07:30 and the engineer kindly explains that out of hours is not what I understand as out of hours and what were we doing being up at that time, i.e. 02:30am. He is allowed to sleep you know. Yep he is, but we aren’t.  

I telephone the wheelchair people in Ely, as soon as it gets office hours, try to explain how serious the lack of a fully functioning wheelchair is to Hubby, but get the distinct feeling that I may as well be speaking to a wall. 

Their engineer turns up after 2pm, too late on a Friday afternoon to do anything to help. So he just shows me the nuts that control how far back the chair goes. He knows he can’t leave me with nothing as Hubby cannot be confined to bed when we have no safe evacuation route and Hubby would have to be taken into hospital with the potential effects.

So this has left us trying to cope with the impossible. I will try and explain, I have positioned the nut on the wheelchair so that it mimics Hubby reclining position so that he does not pass out with low BP. So to get him out of bed, I stuff cushions under the wheelchair to tip it upright as much as possible lift him into his chair which then tips back a bit the cushions not being stiff enough, making it near impossible for me to get Hubby postural straight in his chair a problem at the best of times. He then travels down our corridor me watching him like a hawk for things dangling in his wheels, places himself in his safe spot in the front room. I then lodge my shoulder against the back of his chair to lift him and it up to retrieve the cushions so he can recline. When he needs to eat, I lift him and the chair back stuffing the cushions back in place. It is heavy, it is dangerous, one wrong move and he will be out on the floor, he is partially tetraplegic remember. To get him back into bed, stuff the cushions back in, stand on the footplates to keep chair down while I bring him to the front of the chair to lift him across, then lift him quickly hoping the chair propelling back does not hit his feet or me.

What next, start the campaign on Monday to try and get the wheelchair people to order the part urgently, but expect it to come from the continent so it will be a week at least. Cancel Hubby’s hospital appointment for Wednesday where he was supposed to get his picc line removed, he has had a serious infection. We thought about getting an ambulance trolley but then remembered our lift is not big enough to take one and it is potentially dangerous for Hubby to be lying down all day, catheters, eating, drinking, pressure sores, etc. are very difficult in that position. Surprise, surprise, he needs his fully functioning wheelchair to stay safe.

Readers I stand looking out on a potential precipices, this long hard physical week looming ahead, there will be fights with the people that should be helping, there will be a lack of understanding, there will be a lot of I’m alright jack sod you.

Are our wheelchair services fit for purpose?         NO
Is our disability housing fit for purpose?               NO
Is there enough support for our carers?                 NO
Does anyone give a shit?                                       PROBABLY NO.

The Inquiry

Fri 25th Sept - 02:00hrs - wheelchair tilt recline fails.
                      - 02:10hrs- phone Bartrams out of hours - no reply
                      -07:15hrs- phone Bartrams out of hours - Eng says he will convey urgency.
                       -09:00hrs - phone Bartrams main office to explain urgency.
                       -14:00hrs - Bartrams Community man turns up does quick assessment and                                               leaves. 
Weekend      -left to manage with no help what so ever.
Mon 28th Sept- 09:00 hrs phone Bartrams to find out part despite being urgent, only ordered                           on that day, not on Friday. 
Mon                   Cancel wed hospital appointment.
Mon - Wed        try various manual wheelchair options to get Hubby through all unsuitable.
Thursday          told Handicare view their stock take more important that dispatch of the                                  wheelchair part.
Wednesday     declare an adult safeguarding incident to Peterborough Social Services. 
Friday              told you will have to manage.
Monday,          chasing all day again today, no part.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Hospital Type Care in the Community

Unfortunately due to a growing list of antibiotics that Hubby is allergic to when he recolonizes  a nasty bug called Klebsiella in his urine he has to have a “Domestos” strength  I.V. delivered antibiotic to clear it up. This necessitates a trip via A&E to get a cannula fitted, check up on severity, blood tests etc. Then Hubby in theory needs to take up a hospital bed for up to 7 days for an IV to be given either once or three times a day depending on which one is chosen. Taking up a bed that someone that needs high level acute nursing input could justify having more than he.
Last time this happened we got the hospital bit done only having to stay one night, then we were sent home under the care of Medihome Ltd. This company employs nurses that mean that hospital care can be given in the community. We were very thankful to be back at home as being in hospital means difficulties getting edible food for both of us, being unable to shower Hubby, carting his special Roho air mattress with us, and generally trying to cope with his Spinal injury care in an alien environment. We loved this service, the nurses were some of the most experienced we had come across in a long time. Only criticism I would have is that the antibiotic was given via a bolus rather than via IV. I guess time cost money versus minor extra patient risk.

This time was different, we found that Medihome Ltd have not had their contract renewed to do this service anymore. We were unable to get to the bottom of what had gone wrong or whether it was purely a financial decision.  

We explained our situation to the hospital consultant who could see the sense of what we were saying, Hubby is safer at home due to his pre-existing conditions that make looking after him in a general hospital a nightmare for all concerned. He had a think about it and suggested we make use of the new Ambulatory Care Unit, going there once a day in the morning for the treatment. This having weighed up the alternative of a hospital stay we agreed to do.
So every morning for five days I got Hubby wrapped up against the chilly winter mornings, loaded him up in our specially designed WAV and off we went. Sounds okay doesn’t it? Well if only you knew what that means for Hubby, 15 minutes each way of pure pain when you are not feeling so good. It does not matter how slowly or carefully I drive, each speed bump, pot hole or road imperfection he felt as pain shoots through his spine. Then to arrive and find no disabled parking spaces adds insult to injury, as I have to unload him via our ramp quickly to get him inside the warm before his body temperature starts to drop, him having no body temperature control. (poikilothermia) .
This of course has left us asking why hospital type procedures cannot be performed in the community? Sometimes it is better for the patient.
Now a week later he has contracted Clostridium Difficile, no doubt from being out and about amongst germs that at home I try so hard to control.  So now I try and get his fluid levels up at home to prevent dehydration as of course that would mean another dreaded trip to the hospital for IV fluids.

Sometimes being treated at home for people with pre-existing conditions is not only more comfortable it is safer.