Daughter’s dementia call after ‘traumatic’ experience at the Whittington Hospital

Heather Brett, with her mother, Nora

Heather Brett, with her mother, Nora - Credit: Archant

A daughter is urging hospitals to prioritise dementia care after her 90-year-old mother had a “traumatic” experience at the Whittington.

Heather Brett, 60, told the Ham&High that her mother, Nora McCrann, was not cared for properly because staff were not trained to deal with dementia patients.

The comments come after a report by the Alzheimer’s Society criticised the NHS over care for patients with dementia.

Heather said: “She was 87 when she was diagnosed, it was a total shock. Just a few weeks earlier, we had gone on holiday to Ireland and she was fine, even carrying her own case everywhere.”

After Nora, from Highgate, was diagnosed, she was frequently taken into hospital because of severe headaches. Most visits were noted as “failed discharges” meaning she was released prematurely only to return again within 24 hours.

“Mum was feeling very frightened as well as unwell,” Heather explained. “There was very little support after the diagnosis. There is no help out there, no service was offered, nobody calls, nobody wants to know. It’s disgraceful really. Even now, two years later, no one has reviewed her case or her medication.”

In the end, Heather hassled social services until they agreed to transfer Nora into a care home.

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She said: “I made myself such a nuisance to people. I called a social worker every time mum was taken to hospital telling them they needed to come. They were keen to leave her at home to be looked after by her family so we tried having carers in but it did not work.

“If I had not been so persistent Mum would still be in the same position.

“I can imaging there are many people suffering from dementia who are alone and isolated in their homes with no one visiting them and no medical care.”

Nora is now a resident at Meadowside care home in North Finchley, where Heather said she is “thriving” and “smiling and communicating with people and she goes along to her art classes”.

Nora’s story is revealed as an Alzheimer’s Society investigation criticised the NHS for not providing high standards of care for all people with dementia.

According to the report, 44 per cent of care home managers don’t believe the NHS provides residents with prompt and appropriate access to dementia care services.

The Whittington Hospital responded to Heather’s complaints, saying it is “truly sorry” and a spokeswoman added: “Our teams have worked in training over 1,500 staff to improve their understanding of dementia, creating a toolkit to ensure patients get the right support both in and out of hospital, and training over 70 staff to become dementia champions to help share and embed good care for patients with dementia across our services.

“We are committed to building on this progress over the coming year.”

Heather said: “It is really wonderful to hear about changes, if they are true.”