* She couldn’t reach her TV remote control.
* She wanted someone to turn her electric fan on.
* She wanted the position of her bed adjusting.
* She wanted the crew to give her her medication, even though she’d already had it.
* Her incontinence pad needed changing.
* Her inflatable mattress needed pumping up.
If I had been writing this post a few days ago, I would probably have said something about how it is a shame that Enid is so lonely and has no one else to care for her but it is getting to the stage when Enid is actually driving me insane, and every time I see her address pop up on the screen, I want to throw the computer out of the window. Enid isn’t stupid, she knows that we won’t come out for any of these things, so she always tells the call taker she has difficulty in breathing. We can’t argue with that; we have to send an ambulance. The thing is that Enid IS elderly and DOES have serious health problems (including a previous stroke and heart attack) so we can’t take the risk that there is actually something wrong with her this time. But so far, there hasn’t been.
As an allocator, it presents me with a dilemma, because when I have only one ambulance and two calls – a Red for Enid and, for instance, an Amber for someone who’s having a diabetic hypo, which do I send to? If I send to Enid, and the diabetic dies, then I’ve contributed to that by wasting my last ambulance on someone I know to be a persistent timewaster who rings us when nothing is wrong. If I send to the diabetic and Enid really is ill and dies as a result, then I have broken protocol and sent on an amber before a red and could be held accountable for Enid’s death. The ambulance service make it quite clear they will support you in legal proceedings so long as you have followed protocol – but in this case, I wouldn’t have, so would I be on my own?
I have taken to speaking to every crew that gets sent to Enid. Most need no introduction to her, they have been out to her many times before. It is up to the crews what they do when they get there, but my view is that they shouldn’t be doing ANYTHING non-medical for Enid. I know some of them are big softies and think “Oh, she’s a poor sick lonely old woman, it won’t hurt to turn her fan on now I am here” but the trouble is, the more she does that, the more she learns that she DOES get what she wants by calling 999, and the more she calls us. And one day, someone will die waiting for an ambulance whilst a crew is out fluffing Enid’s pillows.
I live for the day when Enid gets a place in a care home or a live-in carer and stops ringing. But of course, there will always be another regular to take her place…