Healthcare news

Grandmother trapped in hospital 11 weeks over carer shortage finally goes home

Family handout photo of Pat and Elizabeth Canavan and their grandchildren 
Deborah McAleese, Press Association

A grandmother who was trapped in hospital for 11 weeks because of a chronic shortage of community carers has finally been able to return home.

Elizabeth Canavan, who suffers from motor neurone disease, was left languishing in hospital despite not needing inpatient treatment for more than two months.

The 59-year-old grandmother had been warned by medical staff that she faced at least six more weeks in hospital, where she was treated for multiple fractures following a fall, because of a lack of community healthcare resources.

However, after her case was highlighted by the Press Association, health chiefs finally implemented a home care package and she was able to return home to her family.

"Now I can hear the birds singing and watch the long evenings. It was so important for me to get home," said Mrs Canavan.

Speaking from her Ballinderry home Mrs Canavan added: "Now that I am home I don't know how I coped. They were good to me in the hospital but I am just so glad to be home.

"I was really worried that I would be there for a lot longer. It was really playing on my mind.

"It was difficult being away from the family."

Mrs Canavan was admitted to the Mid Ulster Hospital at Magherafelt 11 weeks ago with a number of fractures after a fall.

She was told within a matter of days she could go home as soon as a care package was available to assist her.

A hospital bed and other equipment were delivered to her home, however no carers were available to provide community care.

Mrs Canavan's husband Pat (63) was told by the Northern Health Trust that they could not find any carers and offered him money to source them himself.

However, Mr Canavan did not know where to begin the search.

"All the equipment had been delivered to the house but I couldn't get home. I felt in a kind of limbo. I feel so lucky that I was finally able to get a care package," said Mrs Canavan.

"I feel so sorry for all those unable to get home because of the lack of carers. Although the hospital and the staff are good there is nowhere like home. I just hope that those people trapped in hospital can get home soon.

"It is sad that this is happening to people. It shouldn't be like this," she added.

SDLP MLA for the area Patsy McGlone said there is a "chronic shortage of home carers" and that this is resulting in many patients being left in hospital or nursing homes unnecessarily.

"I am delighted that Elizabeth has finally been able to get home with her family and friends. Unfortunately her case is not unique.

"I am meeting with the Northern Health Trust to establish what their strategy is for people like Elizabeth left in hospital or nursing care when they should be home," said Mr McGlone.

"I am dealing with at least eight similar cases," he added.

Recently the Northern Trust said there can be difficulties in securing care providers in certain areas as demand is outstripping capacity.

A spokeswoman added: "This is not an issue specific to the Northern Trust and the Trust is actively working to increase provision of packages where possible."

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