Are Alzheimers Patients Triaged as ‘Low Priority’ ?
Let’s face it, dementia patients, in general, are usually old, incapable of speech and/or movement, providing our economy only with profitable funeral services. So, why worry about treating them at all ?
Having spent a year trying to help Margo Farbrace to save Bryneithin – Home for the Elderly Mentally Infirm – I became aware of the above opinion of dementia patients and their need for specialist care 24 hours per day. To say that it was heartbreaking to see so many dementia patients trying to cope with their inevitable demise, would be a massive understatement. On the other hand it was heart-warming to see the constant flow of loving care bestowed on these patients by the dedicated staff and the relatives who did their best to keep the attention and recognition of their loved ones.
Margo was just one of these hard working relatives, who defended the proposed closure of this home with a passion akin to that of Joan of Arc. Margo formed the ’Keep Bryneithin Home Open ‘ group, consisting of other distraught relatives and a few ‘hangers on’ like me and some politicians, in search of a good photo opportunity.
Concentrating on trying to stop the Vale Council from committing the heinous act, Margo was a wizard with her ‘pen’ and a most eloquent speaker at their public committee meetings. It was my job to add the references to current legislation ( eg The Health and Social Care Act ) to the letters, whilst re-enforcing Margo’s determination to stop the closure of this – the only specialist care home for dementia patients in the Vale - essential facility.
Unfortunately, following the death of the last patient ( their contract stating their right to stay there until their demise ), the home was brutally demolished to make way for a more profitable housing development. Nonetheless, Margo continued her lonely battle against the uncaring council that completely ignored the future needs of the Elderly Mentally Infirm.
To return to the title of this piece, I offer the case of an 82 year old Alzheimer’s patient who was kept in an ambulance, outside UHW hospital’s A&E department for over three hours. His wife called the ambulance at 9.30am, yet at 1.15pm, he was still waiting outside the Accident and Emergency Department
His son, Andrew Leake, 57, from Chester, said: “It is unbelievable that, in this day and age, we treat old people like that. I am really angry – is this the way we treat our senior citizens?” A source at the hospital, who wished to remain free from ‘the whistle-blowers fate’, stated that there were 12 ambulances waiting outside the accident and emergency department at 3.00pm ! [ Obviously this wasn’t one of those days when ‘Robust Planning’ managed to control the flow of acutely ill patients.]
No apology will suffice in a life-threatening situation such as this, and poor old Mr Leake was obviously triage d as being the lowest priority.
If you want to help the fight for specialist dementia services you can contact Margo through me, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org . With a growing number of the elderly the need for such specialist accommodation is essential. R. W.