“You really do get upset at crap carers”, one of my station officers said to me.
We were sent to a young woman living in a group home. There are carers there as this woman has some severe mental health problems and there are a number of similar people living in this home.
Not that I would know as the carer opened the door and essentially pushed the patient at me.
All I could tell was that the patient was confused and uncommunicative. She reached out and took my hand and started walking towards the ambulance.
I explained to the carer that I'd settle her down in the back of the ambulance and then come back to get some information.
The patient sat in the ambulance, due to the way she was holding her head and breathing she was spraying spittle everywhere. The carer was nowhere to be seen.
I went back to the house and banged on the door.
“What happened?”, I asked.
“She wanted me to call an ambulance”, said the carer, “I don't know why”.
“Did something happen?”
“Her eyes rolled back in her head”.
“Did she shake at all?”, I asked.
“Oh… Yes”, said the carer, appearing a little dazed herself.
“What can you tell me about the patient's normal condition?”, I continued.
“I don't really know her”, she said. When I pressed her on how long our patient had been at the home she told me it was only “four or five months”.
Shaking my head in disbelief that in a small house like this the carers took so little interest in the people living there that they knew nothing about them after four months I asked what medicines she takes.
“Two little white pills in the morning, and two purple ones at night”.
I let the carer know that my psychic powers weren't that good and she'd have to be more specific than that. She couldn't.
The patient was unkempt, appeared to have someone else's underwear on and her hair hadn't been washed in some time. The 'carer' didn't know anything about her and refused to have anyone come to the hospital with the patient. By now the patient was starting to wander around the back of the ambulance and I wanted to get her to hospital.
On the way to hospital the patient kept standing up, so I had to hold her hand and get her to sit down again – I didn't want her falling over should my crewmate need to stop suddenly. While she was doing this she was unconsciously spraying spittle up my body, over my arms and in my face. She wouldn't keep an oxygen mask on, so I was getting covered.
By the time I got to the hospital I was fuming at the lack of care that this patient had been receiving from this 'care home', I was angry that no-one had travelled with her, I was angry that she had been 'dumped' on my with the carer not telling me anything about her and I was a little annoyed that I'd been covered in her drool.
Then I booked the patient in and discovered that she has 'open' tuberculosis, which means that I may be needing six months off work at some point in the future.
Again, this was a thing that the 'carer' had neglected to tell me.
So it was back to station for me for a long shower, followed by filling in paperwork for my risky exposure and a 'vulnerable adults' form to highlight what I considered neglect going on at that home. Someone higher up on the food chain than me will take on having a look at the home and seeing if my fears are justified.
As I reported it to my station officer he said to me, “You really do get upset at crap carers”.
“Yes”, I said, It's one of the few things that still fires my blood, that 'carers' can get away with doing such a shoddy job while I feel that us ambulance people are the only ones who still give a damn about people. I wish I met more people who were good carers.
A little time ago I met the private secretary for Ivan Lewis, the minister for social care – he told me that they don't have much to do with ambulances as we supposedly don't deal with that much social care. I put him right on that score, that around 80% of our jobs involve social care. This is what we see, this is what we deal with – we are that safety net that deals with everything when the other services throw up their hands and don't know what to do. When the sun goes down and everyone else goes home, we and the A&E departments must deal with everything and anything – and that is why we see the flaws in the system.
Looking at my list of future blog-posts I think that this week will have the failure of the care system as a bit of a theme, not for any real reason, just because that's what I've been getting of late.