As the year closes, we look forward to new beginnings, and hope for a brighter future. We have dreams, plans and challenges.
We hope for a better fairer world despite the evidence that the world is becoming more dishonest, unjust and unequal. We see the poor and the socially marginalised go without decent homes and basic healthcare.
Public patients face health rationing like never before as they are increasingly viewed as a burden instead of as a responsibility. Governments see restricting treatments and euthanasia as a means of limiting health spending and overcoming their failure to balance economic budgets.
Those in the later stages of life can be most vulnerable and palliative care patients can be made to feel unworthy of care. Families cope with watching loved ones get poor care –
“Dad worked all his life and paid taxes but when he really needed help they just ignored him. They just saw him as old and useless, he was only 60”
“I have PTSD after the death of my son, I don’t think I’ll ever recover”
“They gave my mother too much morphine for pain, she became unresponsive. They said she was dying and stopped all treatment. They said it was best to “die with dignity” but there was no dignity. They said she couldn’t recover. I had to insist and insist that they recommenced IV fluids so that she didn’t become dehydrated while over sedated. Eventually they restarted fluids and my mother recovered from the sedation the next day enough to go home and spend weeks with her loved ones and grandchildren. They wanted to deny my mother this precious time.”
“They just let my father die after he had been in the nursing home for 3 years, they don’t want anyone to live longer than 3 years. I wanted a second opinion and a specialist but they denied my father good medical care. They just let him die”
“I think John was dead for hours before they told us. They didn’t say anything but I noticed his fingers were stiff and I could not straighten them. They came and went and said nothing. Early in John’s illness, the hospital staff had always been so friendly and supportive. But when we really needed care and support , they just left us alone as though we were lepers. There was nothing but coldness and silence.”
“Dad made sure the palliative care doctors stayed away from Mum while she was in hospital. They had been so uncaring and intrusive, they had upset Mum so much in the last few months of her life”
Hearing the stories of other families has made me realise that our family was not alone in suffering from poor healthcare. When my family member died, we called for the nurse. She walked in checked for a pulse and then walked out saying nothing. She left us alone for half an hour. I thought her silence was weird. At the time I felt sorry for the nurse. She was of a different culture and English was her second language. I thought she did not know how to communicate. After half an hour, she returned, checked for a pulse again on the stiff body and said nothing except that she would call the doctor. I wondered why she had taken so long. The doctor came to do the formality of signing the death certificate. No one asked if we were ok, we were just a formality. This was one last bad experience after months of trauma fighting for better healthcare. I thought this experience was weird but after listening to other families, I realise it was normal for our health system.
Despite my experiences
I STILL HOPE FOR IMPROVEMENTS IN HEALTHCARE
Despite the economic rationalism focusing on cutting services to the most needy people –
Despite our broken public health system and politicians who seem only interested in their own careers and ignore the needs of the people who they are paid to serve –
Despite the public apathy to speak up about poor healthcare even though it can affect each and every one of us at our most desperate time –
THERE IS STILL HOPE
I do hope that in 2018, healthcare will improve. I hope health professionals will see the dying as sick people in need of care and not just as economic burdens to be discarded as quickly and cheaply as possible.
My wish for 2018 is that people will stop accepting poor health care and politicians who don’t care.
My hope is that people will stop saying, ” The health system is broken and we can’t fix it. “