I wrote this letter to eight councillors and my MP after my Mum had had a frustrating stay in hospital. I received a reply from just one, which was more of an acknowledgement and good wishes than a real reply.
You are getting this email, either because you were present at a meeting about the closure of Hobkirk House in New Malden earlier this year or you are councillors representing my mothers ward, ((KT3), or you are my MP. Hobkirk House, apart from providing permanent care for a very small number of people, provided respite and rehab care for 24. It was being closed because of its age. I think it’s a 1970s build. Far as I could see it didn’t leak, it wasn’t draughty, but it is sitting on a bit of prime land.
If you were at that meeting, you may remember me. My father had just died and I spoke about the difficulties of managing two elderly people, Dad dying with cancer, Mum with severe mental health problems and difficulty walking.
My concern was, that mum had had rehab in Hobkirk House in the summer of 2014, and if they closed it, and she needed rehab again, where would she go?
Well, here we are, in just that situation. Mum is bed blocking in Kingston Hospital. She has been there since last Friday, so that’s 12 days now. She is waiting for a transfer to Tolworth Hospital.
When I brought my mum in, it was for X-rays, because she was unable to take weight on her left hip. There is no fracture, and they think it is a soft tissue problem.
Prior to that day she had been managing to live in her own home, with support from me and a carer, but fairly independently of state help. In fact she cost the state £80 a week higher rate attendance allowance, and I was claiming £60 carers allowance, in addition to her pension. So £140 a week. That’s against, I believe, £400 a day for a hospital bed. If she were in Tolworth rehab unit, I am guessing the cost would be more like £800 a week. The longer my mother is in hospital the more her physical state will deteriorate, and the longer she will need to be in a place of rehabilitation. This is all costing the country money.
She is getting more and more disabled as she waits. She is now catheterised, she lies in bed, or sits, she has an excellent appetite and is putting on weight, when she could really do with losing some. She now needs two people to help her move about, when at the beginning she just needed one.
There are two physiotherapists on the ward in Kingston Hospital for 26 patients. Say they actually work 7 hours a day with their patients, (unlikely what with all the paper work), that’s 14:26. Less than half an hour activity a day. And probably far less.
On the positive side, the staff are kind, the ward is spotless, and in good repair, the food is good, she has a lovely view out of the window.
She is in a ward with several other old ladies, who don’t look ill to me. They don’t need doctors, most of them.
How ridiculous that 24 rehab places were pulled from the Borough’s resources. Presumably it costs the council less and the state more to keep people in hospital? But it’s all public funds.
So why was I reassured that places would be there for my mother and others like her? Mention was made by somebody that the council would block buy nursing beds. But there is still a constant number of people needing those beds whether they are bought by the council or not. What happens to those 24 people displaced by the council bulk buy? Do they have to go further away, or just about survive at home propped up by exhausted carers? I can assure you there is no surplus of availability of beds in nursing homes in Kingston Borough. I know this as I tried to get Dad a place somewhere to die. They are very few and far between.
It’s really frustrating, particularly as Xmas approaches. If there had been a rehab place for mum last week, she might have been home for Xmas. I don’t think she will now, and that’s pretty miserable.
Update on this. I have just heard, as I am finishing this email, that there is now a transfer on the cards to Teddington this afternoon. Out of the borough. I live very near Tolworth.
Another phone call. They now have a place in Tolworth.
That’s two phone calls from one of those physios. I dare say they make a few of those, which eats into that time with their increasingly bed ridden clientele.
However this does not make this email irrelevant. She has still bed-blocked, gained weight, become a lot less fit for independent life, in the 12 days she has been in Kingston Hospital.
On the previous occasion she was accommodated within a day, at Hobkirk House.
There were 24 places. 23 other people like her and it’s cost a lot of money to the tax payer, and a lot frustration for us. However it’s saved the council a few bob.