Something that patients and staff could agree on towards the end of last year was the set of problems relating to demand on acute beds, boarding out and delayed discharge. Patients spoke to us about mattresses being put into quiet rooms to accommodate people because all other beds were full. Other people told us about being placed in the wrong ward for their area, condition or age group and the impact this had on their care and treatment e.g. they might have a bed in one ward but be spending the day in another. Several patients said they felt a bit stuck in hospital because of difficulties getting accommodation and packages of support in place in the community. There is quite a lot of current activity looking at these ‘patient flow’ issues and we’re keen to see the blockages in the system resolved so that patients spend as little time as possible in hospital in the right place, getting the right treatment and then are discharged to the community with suitable packages of care and support, if that’s what they want.
In the winter months, patients often complain about the temperature of the wards in the new hospital – there is often a chorus of complaints that the wards are simply too cold. The women in Meadows ward were particularly organised this year and created a petition for the senior management team requesting that the temperature be raised. Patients had to keep their outdoor jackets on while in the ward, were using hot water bottles and requesting extra blankets. In this instance, their request was looked on kindly and the temperature was indeed increased, although we’ve learned that things fluctuate at times and the ward can still be cold, particularly at night.
Other issues that frequently arose over the last few months have been issues with medication, with many patients feeling there is an over-reliance on medication, with not enough attention being given to other therapeutic interventions and activities. The smoke-free policy continues to cause friction with some patients who feel that they have to give up cigarettes at a time of crisis and find this difficult to manage. We always try to remind people that a smoking cessation nurse is available to help make this as painless as possible. Many patients spoke to us about problems with their personal belongings going missing and we are trying to raise awareness of the lockers on the acute wards that can be made available to store patient property.