Improve your hospital stay

It can be a challenge for people with disabilities to be correctly cared for while in hospital. Fortunately, a simple form can assist

Every spinal cord injury is unique. As a result, each person requires a different level of care. This can pose a problem when admitted to the hospital. The medical staff might be unfamiliar or ill-informed on the needs of the individual or how to assist. For this reason, Dr Virginia Wilson drew up a document, designed by QASA, to assit when re-admitted to hospital.

“The purpose of the form is to give all the information regarding the care of any patient with a disability to the nursing and medical staff, which avoids many questions that can be very exhausting, especially if the person with a disability has a speech or hearing disability,” Dr Wilson explains.

By completing the form, quadriplegics and paraplegics provide information on their condition and the assistance required. The form includes general information like contact details, but also more details about care such as communication, bowel routine, bladder management and more. When asked whether the form should be completed before or during hospital stay, Dr Wilson expresses the urgency of having is completed beforehand.

“Ideally, any person with a disability should have the form before a planned admission,” she says. “Either they, their caregiver or family member can complete it and hand it over when they are admitted to the ward.”

It is also worth having the document completed and at hand in the case of emergency hospitalisation. There is the option of not completing it at all, but this could offer some challenges when admitted.

“It is very common that hospital staff don’t understand why the people with disability has to be cared for in a certain way, for example, a quadriplegic might need to be turned every four hours in bed,” Dr Wilson notes. “The risks are great. People with disabilities often get pressure sores in hospital. Even something as simple as drinking becomes a huge problem if you cannot reach a glass or even hold a glass.”

The form has been used in practice. By making it more widely available, Dr Wilson hopes that all quadriplegics and paraplegics will be appropriately cared for.

“It is hard to implement as one is not always aware when patients are going in for a planned admission. The form needs to be publicised much more widely, copies kept in all rehab units around the country, sent to general practitioners (for example, the Academy of Family Practice) and disability organisation,” she explains.

Dr Wilson gives a personal example of how the form can be beneficial: “I recently had a quadriplegic and a paraplegic admitted as emergencies. There were not enough time to stop and do the form. Another person was admitted without my knowledge and had a dreadful time.

“One way around this is to make the various private hospital groups aware and have the from available so it can be completed to ensure the medical and nursing staff have some idea of the care required.”

Readers are encouraged to download the form from the Rolling Inspiration website. Complete it and keep it at hand when needed. Share the link with friends, family and anyone else who might benefit from the form.

Download the form here.

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