El­derly pa­tient left alone

Nelson Mail - - FRONT PAGE - SA­MAN­THA GEE

An 86-year-old Golden Bay woman, re­liant on twice daily vis­its from car­ers, was left to fend for her­self for long pe­ri­ods.

Golden Bay woman Me­lanie Walker said she was shocked to dis­cover her 86-year-old mother, who re­ceives daily in home sup­port, had not been vis­ited reg­u­larly for days.

‘‘It felt like ac­tual ne­glect, I was quite alarmed.’’

Walker went to see her mother on Wed­nes­day last week, who told her no car­ers had been to visit since Fri­day. She was still in her nightie and she hadn’t been bathed. Walker has since found out her mother was vis­ited twice in­stead of the eight times she was sup­posed to re­ceive care.

‘‘The bad thing about that was she was just sit­ting, wait­ing all the time for some­one to come and she is quite frail, she can’t do any­thing by her­self now.’’

Her mother said the sit­u­a­tion had been so up­set­ting that she hadn’t eaten any­thing all day on Tues­day.

Walker’s mother, who did not want to be named, was vis­ited by car­ers from Nurse Maude ev­ery morn­ing and the af­ter­noon to help bathe, dress and feed her. When they were un­able to make it, Walker said she was usu­ally no­ti­fied by phone.

But Walker had re­ceived no such phone call.

Walker said she was ‘‘out­raged’’ at what hap­pened and she con­tacted Nurse Maude, who said they sit­u­a­tion had arisen from a lack of sup­port work­ers but they had re­cently re­cruited new staff which would re­solve the is­sue.

‘‘I am go­ing to work and mak­ing the as­sump­tion that other peo­ple are check­ing in on her. If I had known that no-one was go­ing to be there I would have got­ten a neigh­bour to call in or I would have put some­thing else in place.’’

In Au­gust, Ac­cess Com­mu­nity Health and Nurse Maude were awarded five year con­tracts by Nel­son Marl­bor­ough Health to pro­vide home-based sup­port ser­vices in the re­gion, be­gin­ning on Septem­ber 26.

Af­ter the con­tract changed over, Walker said dur­ing the first week the or­gan­i­sa­tion seemed dis­or­gan­ised and there were in­ter­mit­tent in­stances where the car­ers were un­able to make it, but Walker was al­ways no­ti­fied by phone.

An­other Nel­son res­i­dent Karen Dean said she also had is­sues with Nurse Maude since the providers had changed.

Dean, who has ter­mi­nal can­cer, said a sup­port worker came ev­ery morn­ing to help her shower and fit a med­i­cal de­vice.

But re­cently, there was a stretch of five or six days where no one showed up. Dean said she had called Nurse Maude to alert them to the is­sue but was only able to leave a mes­sage, and no one had re­turned her calls.

Twice, there had been an ‘‘emer­gency re­sponse team’’ show up af­ter a sup­port worker had failed to.

‘‘They haven’t got a proper sys­tem in place for when staff ring up sick or hol­i­days.’’

She said the un­cer­tainty around whether a carer was go­ing to show up added ex­tra stress to her daily life.

‘‘It is frus­trat­ing be­cause you are al­ready de­pen­dent and you are vul­ner­a­ble.

‘‘It’s tak­ing my en­ergy which is bet­ter spent fight­ing my dis­ease.’’

She said the sup­port work­ers were ex­cel­lent, but they too seemed frus­trated by the sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘They have the same frus­tra­tion as we have, only worse.’’

Nurse Maude gen­eral mar­ket­ing man­ager Sue Bramwell said she was aware that re­cent vis­its had been missed when sup­port worker was ill and a re­place­ment was not im­me­di­ately avail­able. aren’t avail­able for

She said Nurse Maude had since in­creased its staffing lev­els in the area to ad­dress the is­sue.

Bramwell said peo­ple or their fam­i­lies were con­tacted when Nurse Maude were aware a sup­port worker was un­able to visit.

A re­place­ment sup­port worker would then call with an es­ti­mated time of ar­rival.

‘‘Over re­cent weeks our phones have been very busy as we sought to main­tain per­sonal con­tact all our new clients.’’

She said those with high and com­plex needs would al­ways take pri­or­ity.

‘‘We ac­knowl­edge these clients did not get the timely re­sponse we would have liked.

‘We re­gret the dis­tress this has caused them.’’

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