This charity has been set up in memory of Anne Robson, a gentle, elegant lady who sadly died in January 2010, after a very difficult week in hospital in the East of England.
This is her story, told by her daughter, Liz Pryor, Founder and Director of the Anne Robson Trust.
“I am the second youngest of her five children, and it has taken me a long time to come to terms with what happened to my mother. She certainly did not deserve to be forgotten – which was how it felt to us when she was put in a side room, with suspected norovirus, and we were not allowed to visit her.
A bit of background – after my father’s death in 1989 (he had cancer) mum moved from Orford, on the Suffolk coast to live near her eldest daughter, Sally in Bildeston. She lived a quiet life – she loved her garden and her dogs, was a Governor at the local primary school, where she helped the children with reading once a week, and was actively involved in the Church. She adored her children, and many grandchildren and lived life the best way she could – but without the man with whom she hoped to grow old.
Mum’s confidence started slipping and with it her balance – she had a fall, broke her hip and needed an operation. After that she spent a few weeks in a nursing home, and then went home to her cottage with a full time carer. She fell again, turning too quickly and losing her balance, and had another stay in hospital. After this it was deemed impossible for her to go back home, as she needed to use a hoist to get out of her chair, and was unable to stand unaided.
Myself and my siblings knew that we would have to tell Mum that she wasn’t going to be able to live at home again – and to be honest we were absolutely dreading it. She had settled in to the wonderful nursing home that she had been to before, and had even spent her first Christmas there – with lots of visits from friends and family. She enjoyed it much more than we, or she, thought she would.
Then came January 2010. My sister went away for a few days, and early on Saturday 16th January, I received a telephone call letting me know that Mum had fallen out of bed in the nursing home (she had refused to have side bars on her bed…) and had been taken to hospital. Could I go and meet her there?
I got to the A&E department about an hour later.
I am not going to go into details of what happened during that ghastly week, as it is all documented, in minute detail, in a report put out by The Patients Association in December 2010.
Following our mothers death, only a matter of hours after she was discharged from hospital, on January 24th 2010 – we felt compelled to take the hospital board to task to find out exactly what had, or had not, happened to her, in a bid to try and avoid it happening to anyone else.
I realise now, having spent the past 8 years working with and for a number of charities, and NHS Trusts, that looking after elderly people is a complex, challenging task. This does not mean I forgive those who failed my mother. I don’t. But I do understand a bit more about what they are up against. I do understand the complexities of the work that they do. And I must say, here and now, that the vast majority of the people I have met – doctors, nurses, managers – have been lovely. There are a few bad eggs – but there always are, wherever you go in the world.
I also realise that Mum could have been in any hospital, in any part of the UK – it really makes no difference – they are all up against it on a daily basis.
I feel passionately that we should get together and celebrate the amazingness of the NHS – we should “big up” the fantastic nurses, health care assistants, doctors, house keepers, cleaners, consultants – yes, pull them up if they don’t do a good job, but keep telling them how brilliant they are, and you might find they begin to believe you…
If we keep on bashing the NHS – the good people will leave – and then where will we be? Just like my mother went in to her local primary school and helped the children with their reading, we should all stop moaning about how bad things are in the NHS and do something to help make it better.
I try on a daily basis to push through red tape, blocks in the road and people who say “no” in the first instance, because its easier… Thousands of people have died in hospital beds in the 8 years since my mother died. If we can make a difference to even a few people facing the end of their life – because it IS possible to have a “good” death – that would make it all worthwhile.