Grandma is currently going through end of life care and I will use this blog to share her story and my experience as a primary caregiver.
Here is when it began. We noticed grandma's weight loss from a few months ago, and she started losing more and more weight. We knew something was up, we had a feeling it might be bad, but she didn't want to get it checked. Finally on that day, she told my aunty that her discharge in diapers had been more than normal and she agreed to visit a GP. But even so, she still went for her usual exercises for the day. The GP said she should go to A&E for further checks, we tried not to scare her, so she had some oats first before taking a taxi with Aunt and Mum to the hospital. At the A&E, the usual triage process happens and grandma went thru a whole barrage of checks before finally getting a bed at 2am. From 6pm, she was wheeled into the patient's only area where family was not allowed. Total wait time for 84 year old elderly lady = 9 hours. Doc did give us a quick update at 630pm and it confirmed that she did have a growth and its likely to be end stage cervical cancer and they found large lump (5cm) and she would have to be warded. It wasn't a big surprise, we kinda knew. I hope she would get a bed soon and she can undergo the care needed. But the wait continued and we waited outside. It's pretty much a waiting game at A&E. I decided to go bug the staff at 8pm and I managed to give her some dinner. From the caregiver's perspective, I felt at a loss waiting outside in the waiting area cause I was not allowed inside where grandma was kept at, yet I had no information given to me about what was going on with her. It was frustrating and worrying at the same time. I decided to play the sad puppy card and told the security guards about grandma and that i wanted to give her water, could they let me in, which they kindly did. (Grandma is frail so she would have been unable to get her own water or food). Finally at 11pm, I went to bug them again, and thats when they said they would message us on the phone when she got a bed. At this point, grandma had fallen asleep inside already. I understand the healthcare system and the A&E process, but as our population faces a rapidly ageing challenge, I think we need more sensitivity to the needs of the elderly when they are in the A&E. Eg. blankets, water, diaper changes, having the emergency bell available to them instead of hidden away in some corner, access to food if they are expected to wait longer. Healthcare teams focus on treatments, which is great, but sometimes we do need a little more empathy for the elderly patients because their needs are a little different to the average patient.