My father was discharged from hospital suffering from heart failure, with only palliative care to be provided at home. The hospital said he did not pass the threshold for a Continuing Health Care assessment as he could walk from the bed to the door. This is despite the fact that he had a catheter and was expected to die within 3 months. I suspect they did this because they knew they couldn’t discharge him before the assessment was done. The consultant told me that he would be on “gold standard” care by the GP.
When Dad’s GP said he would call in, I asked to be able to talk to him, as the family would be caring for him. He said he didn’t have the time to speak with the family and the visit would be for 10 minutes at most, despite the fact that he had been Dad’s GP for 35 years. A trainee GP was allocated and visited twice.
Because the GP practice area was different from the hospital area, there was confusion about testing and medication. The GP told me to write the letters for his secretary and he would just sign them. He was not aware of the charities which could give us respite – we were left to find out by ourselves.
A Macmillan nurse came once. He advised a fast track application for Continuing Health Care but then failed to complete it as he thought Dad would die before he could do it. The only people who were good were the District Nurses.
The family had no-one to talk to for support. We were all over 60 – one was looking after a spouse with dementia, another was working a 12-hour day, and the third had a family who needed her at home. This led to bad relationships within the family.
On the morning Dad died, he was getting very agitated. I phoned the out-of-hours GP as I was frightened to be alone with someone dying. They said they would red-flag it. A doctor turned up 4 hours later, 2 hours after he had died.