Dad arrived at he Repat Hospital and we were blown away by the place. We walked in the door and were met by a carer and a nurse. We were shown to Dad’s private room, which has nothing in it besides a single bed , a cupboard and a bathroom.The room is huge with no television, nothing on the walls, and is pretty bland.
As this is a geriatric ward, safety is paramount and cords on dressing gowns have to be removed, plastic bags are not allowed, and the ensuite bathroom remains locked. Each carer is allocated two patients and there are only 8 beds in the ward. One interesting rule is that during the assessment period the carer must sight their allocated patient every 15 minutes.
Patients are requested to dress in normal clothing (not pajamas) and encouraged to keep out of their room during the day and to spend their time in a common room consisting of a communal tv, couches, a dining area and a secure outside garden. Visiting hours are 10am – 3pm and is preferable if we are not visiting at meal times to reduce distractions.
A blood test and blood pressure check was done instantly to get a starting point for the nursing staff to work with. We discussed some rules and regulations and were told that ” in this ward…we do the nursing for you, and you get to be the family”. This was a huge relief for myself and Mum after 12 solid months of daily caring for Dad.
I knew Dad was in very good hands by the knowledge of the staff and the way they looked after all of us The staff were really friendly and bonded with Dad instantly. The vibe of the ward was one of serenity and the silence was unbelievable in comparison to our time at the RAH (Royal Adelaide Hospital) . They have a security team on site, however they are rarely engaged as the ward staff are trained to handle difficult situations.
The dementia expertise was really evident as the psychiatrist sat in the room with me for almost an hour and discussed all the medications in detail and talked about behaviours and strategies. It was such a pleasure to discuss Dad’s situation with people that really understand dementia and know more than us. In the other hospital (RAH) the nurses are not specialized and are regularly rotated, hence we had to train them on the run in how to deal with dementia patients.
We then met the nurse looking after Dad on his first day, and she sat down with me for over an hour and discussed the fine details about Dad. It was so therapeutic for me to be able to offload and explain every single strategy and tactic we use to care for Dad on a daily basis. I went through all the ‘triggers’ that indicate to us an escalation in agitation and how to best manage them.
It was the fact the staff actually took the time to really listen (with no time pressure), and document every fact which gave us great comfort. I knew that I was not wasting my time, and that the information I provided would be passed on in a detailed handover to each staff member. This meant that they would now be caring for Dad like we would, with the aim of improving his medication management and behaviours to allow him to return to his nursing home.
Dad must have felt like a freshly released prisoner, and was enjoying having the freedom to walk around the ward and interact with patients and staff without restriction. In the RAH he was confined to his tiny space within the ward and was re-directed back to his bed every time he wandered. This went on everyday ( and night) for a month and was exhausting.
The Repat Hospital has a completely different atmosphere and was exactly what Dad needed at this time. We were so impressed with how smooth the transition was and how each team member interacted with us like a well oiled machine. It was almost like the staff adjusted all their plans to make our first day a pleasurable one for all concerned. It certainly was appreciated…..bring on day 2:-)