I’ve blogged at length about the many very positive reasons for us to help seniors join the mobile generation but sometimes it’s important to reflect on the opportunity it also offers to help carers too:
“I lost my elderly mother a few weeks ago. Not in the euphemistic sense, but the literal. She was removed from her home with no forwarding address. To be fair, my mother had fallen over in the night and not been able to get up again. She had woken the neighbours by banging – resourcefully, if alarmingly – on their party wall at 5am. The neighbours called the police, and the police called the ambulance, and the ambulance took my mother away to hospital because that is what ambulances do. No bones had been broken, there was no bruising or obvious damage to vital functions but these days apparently you can’t just help an 89-year-old lady to her feet and leave her alone, even if she says that’s what she wants.
My mother has always had a horror of hospitals. She believes that doctors and hospitals give you fatal diseases. My father went into hospital a year ago and a few weeks after they released him, he died; ergo hospitals killed him. The fact that he was also in the final stages of lung cancer was coincidental.
But her bizarre logic is nothing to what I found myself battling with once Jim, a neighbour, rang me to tell me that my mother had been taken off in an ambulance.
I live a two-hour drive from Birmingham so the first thing I did was ring the Queen Elizabeth hospital to find out which ward my mother was in. The paramedics told Jim that it was likely she’d be taken there, but the switchboard at the hospital disagreed. No one by that name had been admitted, so they gave me the number of two other West Midland hospitals. Both also denied they were holding my mother but I did get the number of the ambulance service from one of them. When I rang to ask where my mother had been taken, the operator explained she could not even confirm they’d picked up an 89-year-old woman from the address I gave them because of the Data Protection Act. I asked whom she thought the act was protecting when an old lady with a fear of hospitals was lost somewhere in the NHS and out of contact with her only child. The operator was unmoved so I rang the police and asked them to find her, but the nice officer said he could only do that if she had been reported as a missing person. So – crazily – I did. Eighty-nine-year-old lady abducted by ambulance crew. Read all about it.
It took the police six calls to locate my mother. My man rang back 45 minutes later. She had been in the Queen Elizabeth hospital all along but because their computer system hadn’t updated overnight, there was no record of her arrival. Somehow I felt a piece of paper, a ticket of the kind that you get when your car is towed away, would have been a really good idea. Even in Terry Gilliam’s nightmarish Brazil you get a receipt when a family member is abducted by the bureaucracy.
My mother spent more than a week in hospital when it was found there was nothing wrong with her. She was just an elderly lady who had fallen over, been unable to get up, and who cried every time her son came to visit her.
I managed to get her out within 10 days, but only by agreeing that in future she would have a bed and commode downstairs. In return, the hospital said they would arrange for a social worker to send carers to the house three or four times a day. My mother, like many women of her age, objected to carers in her house”
It’s incredible how common it is for dangerous and stressful situations like this unfold. Imagine how different it could all have been if Mrs Mourby had of been using some inexpensive telecom products that had been designed to meet her needs:
1) A press of her IP56 waterproof alarm pendant and the alarm would’ve been raised with her son immediately (via her Care SecurePlus phone that you can buy for £130 online). This would of course also have done away with the additional risks involved in crawling to and banging on the party wall in the hope that her neighbours where in and could be woken.
2) A call to her 100DB Easy to Use mobile phone would have ensured that there was no way of losing her in the Hospital system (available at Tesco’s from only £40).
Note: If you’re tasked with helping a senior join the mobile generation please read this post as it has some tips that will help them fall in love with the tech and ensure it’s never something they’ll leave at home in the event that they are taken off to the Hospital etc.