A cautionary tale. Bed blockers Delayed discharges Human beings.

Mum had not been well. Not well at all. So she had to go to hospital. She didn't want to go. She begged me not to let 'them' keep her in hospital longer than necessary. I promised.

The NHS is very good at 'fixing' things. Soon Mum was much better. We are SO lucky to have the NHS.

The medics said Mum didn't need to be in hospital any more. But she needed to be assessed. She needed a package of care. But nobody could say exactly how this would happen or how long it would take. Mum was moved to a different ward. Mum was now a 'medical outlier'. ⁉️ No one seemed to know when she could be discharged and there was no real system to find out. Mum started to disappear into a black hole...

There was a huge irony for me as a lot of my 'Whose Shoes?' work is around joining things up, making health and care more person-centred… Yet here was my mum entering that all too familiar Bermuda Triangle...

And of course half the problem is that there is not enough funding for social care!

How to get mum out of hospital? It all looked rather daunting.

Being stuck in hospital is pants!

#MatExp is a great example of the power of social media to cut through the hierarchy, shift the power balance and join things up. I had left NHS Expo early to come home and look after my mum... I needed a little bit of help from my friends.

My friends didn't let me down. The help was immediate and unconventional. Not many 93-year-olds have Ukrainian Cossacks on their side. Thanks for that, Alison Cameron!

#FreeGillsMum had a massive impact on Twitter. A bit of fun catches people's imagination. Everyone joined in and sent lovely messages to keep Mum's spirits up ... and some very wacky interventions!

Mum is popular on Twitter and it was lovely to see all the good wishes pouring in

And of course, as well as injecting a bit of fun and humanity, Twitter friends came up with really practical advice!

🌟Thank you Richard Humphries! 🌟

There are many reasons – both medical and social – why people should not stay longer than necessary in hospital.

And social should not be underestimated! I really couldn't bear the idea of mum missing her friend's 90th birthday party. Just the thing to make her feel better! πŸŽ‰πŸŽˆπŸŽŠπŸ’œ

Mum likes a good party

We applied some positive thinking

Mum's Scottish roots go deep and Alison obliged by sending her the amassed bands of Scotland!

Suddenly Mum is seeking help from the Ladies from Hell. She is asking for the Gordons, the Black Watch the Seaforth Highlanders. I haven't a clue what she's talking about but luckily Alison is on the same wavelength‼️

Dr Mark Newbold is leading the Commission to improve Urgent Care for Older People. I said Mum would help him with this. I think she has gone beyond the call of duty by testing A&E services, in-patient services, discharge processes and setting up new community care package! We're looking forward to meeting with Mark and some of my most proactive and innovative 'critical friends' shortly.

The biggest frustration, as always, was communication. Knowing who to talk to and how. Feeling listened to. Trying to work imaginatively with the hospital. Trying to be there when key information was discussed or shared.

So what was the breakthrough in the end? My friend Can-do Kath, who seems to make any mountain look easy to climb (congratulations on the Three Peaks!), tweeted to the CCG...

I don't want to make the story specific to the hospital or CCG. This is more about the wider problem of delayed discharges, joined up services, communication and having really responsive rehab type packages available in the community. Sadly I think this story happens every day, everywhere. As well as getting Mum safely home, a key aim of #FreeGillsMum is to get people thinking about how these things map out for people with no family support. And no Twitter support. πŸ˜‰ But it was amazing how quickly Twitter unblocked things! We are now all working very constructively together. I will reflect further and write a blog when the time is right.

And this was sheer brilliance. Thanks Jenny!

Mum was in the mood for a very good party πŸ°πŸ·πŸ¦πŸŽ‚πŸ’•πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽˆ

And the band were playing!

And Mum was home!

No place like home

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