Recently an elderly friend of mine had a hip operation following a fall. After some weeks in hospital and a rehabilitation centre he was discharged back home with an indwelling catheter, some night bags to attach and a bag full of tablets. He could hardly walk but luckily he had a friend to be at home when he arrived. I went to visit him shortly afterwards to find him bewildered how to cope with the catheter let alone attach the night-bag. He could not walk with the zimmer provided as well as carry the catheter! He did not have a clue how to use the leg straps.  He said he had requested to have the catheter out and could not understand why it did not happen.

After a few days at home he felt he could not manage and went to stay for a month in a residential home. During his stay he again requested to have the catheter out. We asked the home to contact his GP to make a referral for the district nurses to remove the catheter so he could be monitored by the home for urinary retention. However he was advised that the district nurses could no longer perform this task. Again he went back home uncomfortable unable to cope with the catheter. He rang me late one evening to tell me that he was in agony and from his explanation it was likely that he had an infection. I urged him to call 111 and the visiting doctor prescribed him antibiotics for an infection. Again he went back to the residential home for a few weeks. Once again he requested for the catheter to be removed. Finally he had enough and asked his GP to arrange to have it removed privately. This was arranged in no time at all at a cost of over £600 on a private ward in the general hospital with an overnight stay. The prolonged time lapse caused him pain discomfort and presently episodes of incontinence. This has made an impact on his quality of life by leaving him depressed with a fear of venturing out in case of an incontinence incident. 

Is elderly care part of a cinderella service? Is this a betrayal by the NHS to treat elderly people as a low priority? Why should an elderly individual pay for a service which should have been provided under the NHS? Many elderly people fall through the net because of lack of funds or simply not having an advocate to fight on their behalf.