Fix Dementia Care - David's story

When Jill Parr's step-father, David, was admitted to hospital for dental treatment she could never have predicted the trauma that lay ahead. Read more to hear why we need to Fix Dementia Care. 

David Steele, who is 64 and has frontotemporal dementia, had to wait so long for an appointment to have two teeth removed that he developed an agonising mouth abscess. Because he was in so much pain he became distressed and aggressive, but when care home staff called for an ambulance they were shocked when two police vans arrived to collect him.

Jill, 49, from Denton, Greater Manchester, rushed down to the home after she was told what had happened and insisted her father was taken to hospital in an ambulance. When he arrived he was taken to a medical assessment unit and Jill explained why her father was so distressed.

'I expected them to deal with his abscess as soon as possible, but he ended up being in hospital for months being moved from ward to ward. It was an absolute nightmare. They kept forgetting to give him his medication and didn't know how to deal with him.

One time I went in to visit and four or five nurses were running around the ward after him like a Carry on film, and he ended up with bruises on his arms when he was grabbed by two big security guards.

Dad used to become agitated because staff were trying to stop him roaming around picking things up, but all they had to do was to sit him down and talk to him to calm him down.' - Jill

David's aggressive behaviour continued to be a challenge for hospital staff. During one visit Jill arrived to find that police had handcuffed her father to the bed. She was shocked when a nurse told her he had pushed over a piece of hospital equipment and could be charged with criminal damage.

'I was appalled. My father is a sick man but they were treating him like a criminal. It was ridiculous.' - Jill

By the time David was moved to a dementia unit a week later, Jill says he had already lost a considerable amount of weight as staff had failed to monitor his eating and drinking.

She says there was a 'vast' difference in the care provided on the dementia unit, and it was even better after she contacted the rapid assessment interface and discharge (RAID) psychiatric team at the hospital who oversee the care of people with dementia.

In the end David was in hospital four months waiting for surgery to remove his teeth. His operation was cancelled when he contracted the bacterial infection Clostridium difficile, and he was told he would have to return to the main hospital as he was at risk of developing septicaemia.

After two more cancellations he finally had his operation – 11 months after seeing the dentist – by which time his teeth had decayed so much the surgeon needed to remove seven teeth rather than two.

How you can help

We believe everyone has the right to the right kind of care and support, wherever they live – and to know in advance what they can expect. It's only with the support of people like you that we can achieve change, pressuring central and local governments to give people affected by dementia what is their right.

Join our campaign today


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