Suffering patients may need to just be asked ‘tell me about your pet’
An elderly patient is admitted to hospital after a fall at home. He is stunned after the fall but, thankfully, uninjured. It takes him a few days to recover but as soon as he able, he wants to go home. The physiotherapist wants to work with him, the social worker wants to examine his support system, but all he wants to do is go home. We feel he is not yet safe. He acknowledges that a worse event could happen but still, he wants to go home. Theories are posited as to why.
Maybe the concussion is worse than we first thought. Maybe he is cognitively impaired and unable to make decisions about his safety, in which case a state-appointed guardian may be needed. Maybe he doesn’t like the other patients, in which case he could be placated by moving him to another room. It is the beginning of a month of medical rounds for me and he is the handover without a plan.
Sometimes a dog can be better for a patient than hospital