Imprisoned in hospital

My mother-in-law has had MS for over 12 years and up until January has remained stubbornly independent and refuses to give up the fight! Unfortunately in January she contracted an infection which meant a stay in hospital. The infection was brought under control fairly quickly and we all assumed that she would be allowed home but unfortunately she had suffered another MS episode, which meant that she was unable to stand and get herself in a wheelchair. The hospital and care service decided between themselves that she would require intensive help at home (two carers, four times a day) and this is where the problems began. We all know from the media that there is a national shortage of carers and we knew that it would take time. On the 26th March, the carers were in place and mother-in-law was dressed and ready to go home, when a doctor marched into the ward and shut it down, stating that there was another virus and no one could come or go! One week on, the all clear was given and she was given the go ahead to leave but to add insult to injury she couldn’t leave, the care that had been assigned to her was no longer available!

Out of desperation and a lack of communication from the hospital and care authority, I was forced into contacting the local MP and asking for their intervention, our hope is that they can move things along but there will be a process to follow.

How the authorities can treat a person in this manner is beyond belief. My mother-in-law has not been treated with dignity. She has spent 2 1/2 months on a Dementia ward and has been treated as though she has no mental faculties. She wants to go home and if she were able bodied they wouldn’t be able to stop her but she is at their mercy. She has a husband who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers and he cannot cope without her.

Your Mum in law isn’t exactly imprisoned, she’s actually being cared for by nursing staff and doctors. Particularly the doctor who closed the ward to reduce risks of cross infection.

To be in hospital nowadays is quite a shambles, so many shifts and different nurses most days. The food is barely edible, definitely not nutritious. I’ve seen plates of food put onto a patients bed tray, the patient not able to sit up and reach it to eat, an hour later, a different member of staff took the food away, assuming the patient had finished with it. I told the nurse about the poor patient and she said she’d mention it. Nothing was done!

It seems your mum in law will be getting good treatment from the hospital, and Soc.Services are ready to step up when she is eventually discharged & can go home. As your father in law has Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s a double whammy for you and your husband. Both of your hubby’s parents need care and attention. I really feel for them, because no-one seems to have time to spend with them & brighten their days.

Is there any chance of them being supported by Soc.Services to let them live in a nursing home? This would help them both, and also give you & husband some down time.

The various Authorities don’t seem to liaise with others, and leads to incorrect assumptions that someone else will sort this mess out.

Good luck with your M.P. Try to Keep on at all of the people involved, including your M.P every couple of days for an update, if none available, give them 24 hrs & phone again.

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I would also write to the Head of Adult Social Services at your County Council with your complaint and ask for an explanation. It probably won’t do any good but at least they can’t say they haven’t been in contact with you. Best wishes, Anthony

Thank you for your reply. I use the term “imprisoned” as that is what she describes it, an inmate as opposed to an inpatient. As she tells us, if she could get up by herself, then she could have left the hospital weeks ago. The MP’s office have liaised with Adult Care Services, so again we have to wait to hear from them. The option of a home isn’t one mother-in-law wants to consider at this time. She simply wants to go home and we support that as long as they can manage. So we all have to extend our limits of patience and hope that another virus on the ward (there have been over four episodes since her stay!) don’t hinder her leaving.

Thank you for your advice. I did try ringing myself but after a 20 minute hold (I live overseas), I had to put the phone down. Thankfully the MP’s office had more luck and we now wait to see what happens next. Regards. Nicola

Hi Nicola, ahh, your mum in law is really caught between a rock & a hard place. Whilst you & hubby want the best care for her, no organisation has to worry if they all pass the buck.

I can see A.D’s suggestion to write to Head of Social Services and copy in the various other powers that be, particularly her M.P.

If you live abroad permanently nowadays, it’s tough to keep on top of everything in the UK, though thankfully not impossible. If writing takes too long, then you can email all the personnel who can perhaps offer advice, even to take action.

Good luck Nicola,

Chrissie x

Are you residing overseas? are there any other relatives on the ground as it were? Because if not, the best situation may be a nursing home. The carer situation can go awry easily - cuts are being made in social care and unless you/they fund care themselves - and then you have to employ them yourselves - that is an admin task best done from this country.

Hospital social services may view the situation as your parents having no family support permanently around and planning accordingly.

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My MIL had a stroke a few years ago now sadly she has passed since about 3 years ago i think.

Anyway she lived on her own in a cottage which was rented it was not suitable for her as the stairs were dire.

My husband was away a lot working so when she was ready to leave i had to deal with social services.

Rather then bedblock a hospital bed, we agreed for her to go into a home temporary until we could get a new place for her thought the council and a care package put in place she had to have 4 lots of care.

It was all agreed with social services and we had her in a home temporarily.

could your MIL not do that? At least its a start and she gets out of hospital.

I managed to get her a lovely downstairs flat, and got her home emptied and handed over the keys, then she moved into her new place with a care package in place. she lived there for nearly 3 years. It worked well and she had her indpendance but it did take time to organise it all.

The trouble is the lack of care workers.

If however people can afford to pay for their own care there is no need for them to be kept in hospital, as they can arrange their own care.

I cant understand why the SW cant put your mum in temporary home until things are sorted out.

Unfortunately MIL will have to pay for her care and there are still no carers available! I have been in touch with a number of care companies and the problem is that she requires two carers at a time to operate the hoist. We are looking to see if an electric hoist will reduce the number of carers required and as for going into a home, it is not something she wants to consider at the moment and it is not something that has been suggested by the hospital/care authority, so we will have to see what happens. Thank you for your reply.

Thank you for your comment. I have a sister in law that lives locally and being a nurse, you would think it would give her an inside track but unfortunately it is a waiting game. They will have to fund the care themselves and even private carers are like “hen’s teeth”! It is the lack of communication and advice that is the most frustrating thing!

Thank you Chrissie. I have been firing off emails left, right and centre, thank heavens for technology. I will bombard the contact I now have at the Care services and hope something happens soon. All the best. Nicola

hi you need to stress the home is not permanent its just temporary until they find her care I advertised in the paper for my mother in laws care and got a couple of brilliant care workers who worked for themselves.

She was only in the home for six weeks, then i moved her into her flat.

she was much happier in the home whilst she waited. Its difficult but at least she will have some normalcy.

Tigerlily, you will find its a Health and Safety issue. It takes 2 people to safely lift and handle a person, even with a hoist. It is hard to find care agencies, they are all very very busy, underfunded and its a crap job, with low pay.

One way round this is to advertise the job yourself. Make out a job description, listing everything to be done. Decide on the hours, how many and when. We needed more help than soc services were giving and did just that. We now employ a personal assistant 3 hrs a week. If you go this route - offer more than the LA would, i’d say @ £8 an hour to attract someone to the job.

These may be of help

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has anyone the Power of Attorney over her your Mother in law’s care (and her finances) - similarly for her husband. Worth googling to find out more.

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Thank you, very helpful. Will look into it. Take care.

Blood and stone come to mind! Both mother and father-in-law are hard to persuade to relinquish control and my husband doesn’t want to push! I will have to be the one that pushes it forward.

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On the subject of POA, there are 2 sorts. A finance one and a health and welfare one. Worth doing if she or husband has to go into home, when they will not be able to access bankcs etc. Tell them it protects THEIR money and can be done years in advance but IF and when the end comes, having this and a will sorted will save the nearest and dearest a whole load of hassle. So worth saying that to hubby!

I’ve just done mine and I have no intention of kicking the bicket, but dealing with my moms death last year, made me think, I don’t want to leave confusion for MY kids!

Yes I have one when i lost my husband recently. Its worth having I think.