Patient Stories

By listening to our patients' stories, we can understand more about what really matters and, where needed, improve the quality of our services.

This is why we have introduced patient and carer stories to all our Trust Board meetings, and at a variety of Trust meetings and training. These stories seek to:

  • Provide a focus on patient and carer experience prior to decision making
  • Improve knowledge relating to patient and carer experience
  • Gain assurance that the Trust is learning from patient stories in order to benefit the wider patient audience.


Health Visitors

I am Mrs X, a new mother of a 5 month old baby. I’m a Speech and Language Therapist, specialising in feeding, and this role encompasses regularly working with Health Visitors (HV). I’ve experienced the Health Visiting service in a new light, after the birth of my child.

When the HV completed her initial home visit, she was more sympathetic and supportive; they were present for a longer period of time and saw how upset and distressed my child was, following his feeds. The HV was the first person to say I wasn’t losing the plot and advised me to take him to the GP. I went to the GP, and the outcome was that he had a cow’s milk intolerance. From this, it was recommended to place him onto a special formula and I immediately noticed a vast improvement after feeding, and in general.

Prior to this, we had previously attended Poole General Hospital (PGH), due to his poor weight gain, and a heart murmur was identified. A scan was arranged and this will be reviewed at 1 years of age. At this time, there was a very strong focus upon his weight. However, following this I still remained concerned regarding his feeding and presentation.

In addition, she took time with my husband ensuring that he was involved and understood what was happening. I really appreciated her approach, as it kept him part of the journey with our son. I also found it very helpful that the Health Visiting service provide set times and are always on time, which other services don’t always offer. As my baby was born in November, knowing when services are coming made it easier for us to go out and do things before it got dark and cold.

She had completed additional visits whilst his weight was being monitored and we were trialling the new formula. When she did this, she provided us with a phone number to contact her, and we now use drop-in clinics monthly to have him weighed and to seek further advice; I make sure that I attend these, as they are very useful. Others may be unable to attend these if they do not access to a transport.

Even though I have extensive knowledge of child development and the service in general, I would have liked to have a longer period of support from the HV to just to check everything is okay; maybe even a telephone call, just asking the question ‘how’s everything going?’ because I would always have had something to ask!

Overall, the service we have received, from all the services, has been fabulous and all staff are very supportive and caring; every person we’ve seen has been great and knowledgeable – from PGH, to the GP who we have always been able to see on the same day.

The main point about my experience with the HV is that she listened to my concerns and did not dismiss these, which in turn had a huge impact on my son's wellbeing. I felt more listened to with her, than I did with other services.

Team Feedback

The Health Visiting Service was delighted to receive this positive response regarding the support a family received from one of our teams in Poole.

This response has been shared at a recent Poole HV Locality Meeting to support good practice and learning and will also be shared at the forthcoming Pan Dorset HV Leads Meeting for wider dissemination.

The comments regarding access to Well Baby Clinics have been noted and will be fed into our current review on this aspect of service provision by the Health Visitor Advisory Forum. It is acknowledged that the mother would have valued active input or telephone support from the service for a longer period, whilst it is noted that she had contact details for her Health Visitor. Therefore, it is important that practitioners continue to work to empower families to take a proactive approach - encouraging parents to contact the service to discuss any concerns or queries they may have, rather than feeling they have to wait for the service to contact them. Our aim is to provide a personalised service that can respond to identified needs and supplementary advice or additional visits can always be arranged as required.

St Ann’s Hospital and the Early Intervention Service

Monica (not her real name) is a 29 year old woman who was diagnosed with psychosis and bipolar disorder in January 2016. Monica said there is a family history of mental illness, her mother suffers with alcohol misuse, her father with depression, her maternal grandfather with depression and alcohol misuse and her maternal aunt with bipolar disorder, but this was the first time that Monica herself had experienced this.

Before her illness Monica was a successful accounts manager who travelled the country and lived in a shared house. She now feels she has nothing following her illness and the ten months since her diagnosis and the time she spent in hospital.

Monica was taking antidepressant medication prescribed by her GP. But she knew that she was not feeling well. Having previously taken illegal drugs she explained she felt ‘high’. She contacted her GP who suggested that she increase her dosage of her antidepressants, however Monica stopped taking them instead. It is not known how long after stopping her medication, but this led to her feeling even more unwell and feeling very ‘high, so she called an ambulance, as she knew that she needed help.

Monica was admitted to Seaview Ward St Ann’s Hospital, following admission from Poole Hospital in January 2016, and was then transferred to Chine Ward two days later.

Monica felt that Chine ward did not manage her illness well as she felt that she was not getting better.

Monica felt that she was being given the wrong medication to help her and that they could not get her medication right. She did not sleep for many nights as she did not feel safe, this was mainly due to the way her illness made her feel, and also other patients, who she found to be noisy, aggressive and intimidating. The lack of sleep led Monica to become aggressive and violent to both staff and patients. She needed to be restrained and have rapid tranquilization on many occasions and Monica said that as a previous rape victim earlier in her life, being held down made her feel even worse. This was known to staff at the time of her admission.

Monica continued to be violent, and at the time of her hospital admission there was no provision for female intensive therapy beds at St Ann’s Hospital, so Monica was transferred to a hospital in London for further treatment. Monica stated that the move to London made her feel worse and that her medication continued to not work effectively, she thought that she was in a hotel but was being restrained by someone. She tried to escape frequently. She felt like she was in prison and was only allowed half an hour’s break each day, Monica also felt the hospital was dirty.

After a month in London Monica was discharged back to her parents’ home in New Milton. Unfortunately, Monica quickly became unwell again and was readmitted to St Ann’s Hospital in May 2016. Monica continued to be violent and had to be restrained on numerous occasions. Her care team at St Ann’s suggested that she have Electroconvulsive Therapy to try and help improve her behaviour/violent outbursts and to manage her illness. However, her parents felt that this was an archaic treatment and refused for her to have this. Monica was therefore transferred to a different London hospital in July 2016 for further treatment, as there was still no provision of female PICU beds in Dorset at that time.

Monica felt she was bullied and racially abused by other patients during her stay in the London Hospital, as she was one of the few white patients there. They took some time to get her medication under control, and during this time Monica suffered many side effects from the medication she was taking, and she also felt that this hospital was dirty as well. She felt isolated, as her friends could not visit and her family were not nearby for support.

After a month in London Monica was transferred back to St Ann’s Hospital, again initially to Seaview Ward, but she was then transferred to Chine Ward, to stabilise her medication and to support her discharge into the community Monica was discharged in October 2016 to the Early Intervention Service (EIS) .

Monica feels that this admission was much better than her previous one, as the staff in the main were caring. Monica felt she was able to be involved in her treatment and care, was given more leave and had the support of her family and friends nearby.

Monica explained that staff on Chine ward, helped her to find a place to live and she was discharged to the YMCA in Bournemouth following completion of her inpatient stay.

Monica is now under the care of the Early Intervention Team (EIS) and says that their support is ‘phenomenal’ and that she cannot fault the care and support that she has been given by the team. Monica has a really good rapport with her support worker and is also under the care of a psychologist, which is enabling her to talk about her care at St Ann’s and her previous sexual assault.

Monica is currently working part time but is aiming to return to work full time in the near future with the support from the Early Intervention Service.

Team Feedback

From EIS team

Monica will benefit from being able to tell her story and will feel listened to. If she feels that telling her story might help to change/inform future treatment for others then this would be a positive achievement for her.

From an objective standpoint Monica was very unwell for a sustained period of time and achieving the effective combination of medication was very difficult. However reading her personal account of her experiences and the consequences of these experiences highlights how we should all work together to improve care where possible and to also build on the positives.

Working with Monica since she was discharged from hospital she has consistently moved forward in her recovery through her own determination to rebuild her life. The team are really happy that she has managed to achieve so much in a relatively short space of time and look forward to continuing to work with her.

From Chine ward

As we did not have a female PICU Monica stayed on the ward longer than we have liked as we were aware of the consequences for sending her to an out of area PICU, which meant an unfamiliar environment, away from her friends and family, staff that did not know her and she did not know them, and we had little control over their choices of treatment.

Whilst Monica was out of area we stayed in contact with the PICU, with Monica, and Monica’s family. The hospital in London appeared to have a lot of ‘blanket’ rules and patients were not allowed mobile phones so this limited Monica’s contact with her family and friends. All visits had to take place off the ward as visitors were not allowed on the ward, meaning they needed to have staff escort, which affected the length of the visit.

For the new PICU at St Ann’s Hospital we have made a lot of effort to treat patients in the least restrictive manner and have tried to avoid blanket rules - phones are not routinely removed - and if they need to be, the rational for this is clearly documented and if necessary a care plan put in place. Family can also visit on the ward, unless there are significant concerns.

We agree with Monica with regards the out of area placements, and on her first admission there we made the decision to get her back to St Ann’s as soon as possible as the environment was in our view, not conducive to her recovery.

As we did not have PICU provision locally to support Monica, her family were supported financially by the Trust with reimbursing travel cost and expenses thus ensuring that they were able to visit their daughter regularly when she was in London.

Tarrant Ward

Mrs R is a 71 year old woman who lives in Blandford Mrs R was found on the floor of her flat by a senior care assistant on 18 April 2017 and taken to accident and emergency at Dorchester County Hospital. She was found to be suffering from a urinary tract infection and to have a very low insulin level. Treatment commenced and she was admitted to Tarrant Ward 24 hours later to continue her recovery.

Mrs R explained “I don’t remember being in Dorchester Hospital, my first memory is arriving at Tarrant Ward”. Mrs R explained “I had been taking my insulin but I didn’t seem to have any appetite, which I feel was how I started to become ill. I must have been hallucinating as well as I thought I was going to an orthopaedic appointment, in a taxi and then later thought I was on trial for my life!”

Eventually, I became aware of where I was and the staff really helped me. “The food was wonderful and the nurses were so special they must have had intensive training. The nurses kept on top of my drugs, I used to take my insulin 4 times a day and they altered it to two times a day, I wasn’t sure, but it did the trick, I am fine now on less insulin”.

Mrs R said “I enjoyed being on the ward and the therapy that I received. The nursing staff were always available if I needed them but they allowed me to be as independent as I wanted to be. I took part in quizzes on the ward which I really enjoyed.” Mrs. R said she had her haircut whilst an inpatient which made her feel good. She really appreciated having help to have a shower and wash her hair as it gets dirty quickly when you are unwell.

On one occasion the ward organised a visit from ‘Lofty’ a therapy horse. She said “I had been around horses when I was a child and it brought back lovely memories. I thought it was funny that the horse had shoes on and was amazed it did not slip!”

“While I was in hospital I set up a memory box with the Occupational Therapist which was lovely. I enjoyed being taken out on to the patio, it felt like a secret place to enjoy the fresh air, it made my day as I was in hospital for a month”. Mrs. R recalled. Mrs R said “The patient next to me kept trying to get out of bed, so I kept ringing the bell so staff could stop her from getting out of the bed. I felt guilty as the staff were so busy but realised I was helping the staff and helping the patient from falling again. I enjoyed helping the patients around me”.

Mrs R explained that she watched over another patient next to her who had dementia. Because of her dementia she used to swear and I would suggest she used a politician’s name when she wanted to swear “I knew it was the dementia and not her, she was a lovely lady and I did her exercises with her to help”. The staff referred to us as ‘The Naughty Girls Club’, we had a good laugh”.

Mrs R summarised her experience “Woe betide anyone that closes Blandford Hospital as it was wonderful. It’s the very best I’ve been in, and I have been in a few. The nurses put up with me and I know I can be difficult at times, particularly when I was so unwell”.

Mrs R was taken to her home for a pre-discharge visit by a member of the Integrated Rehabilitation Team (ICRT) to assess whether her home had equipment in place to ensure her return home would be to a safe environment. Mrs R was discharged from Tarrant Ward on the 16 May 2017.

Tarrant Ward Feedback

This story will be shared with the team, it is always lovely to hear how the great care we deliver has made a difference to our patients and supported their recovery. The visit from Lofty the therapy horse was greatly appreciated by both patients and staff and we look forward to his next visit in December.

This patient story includes:

• The disorientation felt by a patient in a semi-conscious state with an infection.

• The importance of therapy in a patients recovery.

• The interpersonal relationships on the ward can help patients feel relaxed and happy.

• A positive response to her admission and her appreciation of the ward staff in her recovery.

What has the Trust learnt?

That occupational therapy plays an important role in the patients’ recovery. Personal care and

normal activities such as hairdressing and being taken outside improved her wellbeing.

The reason for the hospital stay was her physical health but her wellbeing was equally


Actions taken:

Mrs R did not have any suggestions for improvement.

Support Transition and Recovery Service (START) West Dorset

Sam is a 27 year old young man who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, diabetes and other disorders related to excessive alcohol intake. Sam has been sectioned three times under the Mental Health Act over a five year period between 2007 and 2012. He was first sectioned after a Ketamine overdose at the age of 16. Sam currently lives with his father in Lyme Regis after moving from Sherborne. Sam is a very reserved young man and his father assisted him in sharing his story.

Sam’s mother and father had been through a difficult split and his Dad felt this was the start of Sam’s problems. Initially Sam was still living with his mother when they were in Sherborne. Sam’s Dad explained that he knew he had to get more involved when Sam had been sectioned for the third time. He was scared that he could lose his son forever. He hoped to move Sam away from the influences he felt were having a negative effect on his son’s life. Eventually Sam and his Dad managed to move to Lyme Regis and they now share a flat.

Sam was originally under the Community Mental Health Team and was referred to Sarah, the Support Transition and Recovery Service (START) Worker in July 2016 for help with his recovery. After completing the “recovery star” where Sam’s areas of interest were identified, it became clear that Sam was very keen on improving his fitness. He also understood that his alcohol intake was detrimental to his diabetes and mental health. Sam had a huge barrier as he was worried about using public transport to get to Bridport to exercise.

Sam’s main identified interest was his love for animals. Sarah suggested volunteering at an animal sanctuary called “Ferne” in Chard however the location, again, was an issue, as there was no regular public transport. However Sam was happy to apply and deal with the travel issue should he be given an opportunity. Whilst waiting for an opening to arise at Ferne, Sarah encouraged Sam to take up other volunteering opportunities but he remained focussed on working with animals. There was a long period of waiting for a suitable opportunity to arise and his engagement faltered for a while. One day whilst Sarah was walking back to her car from meeting with Sam, she stopped to talk to a local trader who had a dog sitting outside her shop. They chatted about the fact that the dog enjoyed sitting outside but, when she was busy, she could not take the dog for a walk. Sarah asked whether she would consider talking to Sam about him helping her with the dog. When Sarah had spoken to Sam he visited the shop by the end of that day. Sam now walks the dog 4-5 times a week and has been referred by the local trader to other friends to walk their dogs.

On speaking with Sam he makes it clear that his is in a much better place now. In the last four years he has not been sectioned. He said there are a number of issues which have been important to gain that stability in his life.

Initially his father moving in was a key change. He began to eat regularly and had someone who he could trust. Sam said that Simon, his Care Co-ordinator visiting him at home to organise his medication has been a huge improvement. He says the walk to the GP practice was over a mile away up a steep hill and with his fitness levels was difficult. Sam attributes a significant impact to the change in his life to achieving his aim of working with animals. He says that he loves to walk the dogs, which he does individually for about an hour at a time. Also having made a commitment to walk the dogs makes him get out of the house and not sit around and drink alcohol. He has lost weight due to the walking and his mood has improved considerably. The fact that the community are supporting him has also increased his self-worth and is beginning to embed both

Sam and his Dad into the local community. Sam’s Dad has also been signposted to carer’s services by Sarah who is keen to ensure he is not feeling isolated and unsupported. Sam and his Dad both feel the journey is not yet ended and there is still a lot of work to do. However they feel positive about the changes they have made together. They continue to feel supported by Sarah and know if they do need additional help she is there.

Sam’s story includes:

• The importance of family support;

• An holistic approach to the patient;

• Thinking outside of the norm to support patients;

• Healthcare workers knowing and working with the local community to support patients;

• Understanding barriers and working to minimise those for patients

• The positive impact of having commitments to an individual

Feedback, concerns and complaints