Kathy Feao is upset with the way her grandfather was treated in hospital.
Kathy Feao is upset with the way her grandfather was treated in hospital. Warren Lynam

Dying patient forced to soil bed

A DYING elderly patient was forced to soil his bed on Sunday after Nambour General Hospital staff ignored his urgent "buzzes" for help for nearly two hours.

He was then "washed down with cold water".

His frustrated family has spoken out in the hope that no one else has the same degrading and humiliating experience.

"We treat our animals better than they treat our elderly," his daughter, who wanted to remain anonymous, said.

The man's granddaughter, Kathy Feao, said even though the 87-year-old was dying, he was still "very coherent and switched on and aware of everything".

"When he buzzed for a nurse to help him to the toilet, no one came, even after several buzzes," Ms Feao said.

"As a result, my grandad had sh--t in his bed as he had no other option: he is not able to walk.

"He was then cleaned off with cold water."

The family believes understaffing was the cause of the problem.

"The day prior, I was visiting him and he was in severe pain," Ms Feao said.

"We buzzed several times for a nurse. After 15 minutes, I went to find a nurse.

"I was told one would be sent soon. Another 10 minutes later, a nurse attended.

"A dying old man, a war veteran, should be treated with so much more respect and dignity in his last few days."

A nurse, who apologised to the family after the Daily made inquiries, told them understaffing was not the problem.

"If it's not understaffing, then I'm not sure what it was," the daughter said.

Questions put to the hospital about staffing procedures and capacity on the weekend were not answered.

Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kevin Hegarty said the nurse unit manager "has been in direct contact with the family to clarify the care arrangements in place".

The daughter said she had noticed "bad smells coming from patients' rooms" as soon as she arrived at the hospital.

Cleaning staff have been identified as one area the hospital could possibly reduce as it struggles to find ways to achieve the 108 staff cuts required by the State Government by March 31.

The elderly patient has contributed to a private health fund for most of his life, but the earliest he could be transferred to a private hospital was yesterday afternoon.

Ms Feao said she wished a similar experience could happen to a relative of the Premier or the Prime Minister.