Older Mind Matters

Harry, Joan and the heroes, part 2

Part 1 finished with Harry and Joan both in hospital on different wards, Harry with the geriatricians and Joan the orthopaedic team. The geriatric team join our list of heroes. They looked after Harry as he gradually improved and fed him all the things he loved but wasn’t really supposed to eat. On Friday February 24th Harry was discharged from the hospital and went into the respite bed that had been originally earmarked for Joan. Hero that he is (as Dave Jolley rightly pointed out), he’s still hoping to take Joan home and look after her …

Joan meanwhile is still stuck on the orthopaedic ward with physiotherapists trying to teach her (at 86 and with advanced osteoarthritis in both shoulders) to hop on her good leg holding a frame and keeping her weight off the plastered leg. She’s a hero just for trying, but, not surprisingly, isn’t succeeding. Her eyesight’s poor and hospital is boring; there’s nothing to do but sit by your bed, worry, and hope for visitors.

Some of the learning so far isn’t rocket science. Where shall I start?

Ward staff members don’t communicate – relatives tell one person something and it disappears into a black hole.

Acute hospitals don’t understand older people. I suspect that an important message for them is that sometimes what’s needed is function not a perfect result.

Boredom is not good for well-being.

Continuity of care is a myth.

We do get some things right in mental health – maybe we need to take more pride in what we do.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Dave J wrote:
Still – They are both holding on in there
I wonder how far Harry’s plan for a shared future is being taken on board by the professional teams.
Is there the where-withal for them still to be seen as a unity rather than two individuals with their own spectrum of needs?
The family can certainly have this vision. It is possible that their General Practitioner/Primary care service can see this too but they, like the family are disempowered by the dislocations which the admissions and relocation have produced. Perhaps those responsible for Harry’s ‘respite’ are working with him to generate the plans which will see the reassembly of the couple in their chosen place
Harry sounds to be doing well. Is he able to visit Joan? If/when he can then his views can be heard. There needs to be a way of course for them to be recorded and made available to the decision-makers who are rarely around at visiting time. Emails to consultants, social workers and others can penetrate where paper planes have fallen defeated
Do they have ward-rounds which include family? That would be a help.
Time and survival give natural healing time to work their wonders and these can stretch to see 86 year arthritic Olympians achieving a working relationship with a frame and a plastered leg. These are the challenges which later life offers up. Not a time for the faint-hearted – There is a book with a title something like that
This is that Ever-After we have looked for

Thu, March 1, 2012 @ 3:11 PM

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