24 Jan 2020 3 Respondents
By David Seedhouse
Thinker (1513 XP)
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Betty and Derek are both in their eighties, and both have been living in a residential home for the past 9 years.

Betty and Derek have always had a very close marriage and always tend to do things together and share each other’s company as much as possible. Despite this, due to practical reasons and lack of space, the couple have separate rooms, but next to each other.

Betty suffers with severe bilateral macular degeneration and as a result can see very little and is registered blind. Betty also suffers with very poor hearing and uses a wheelchair since her arthritis became severe a few years ago.

Derek has been very ill with pneumonia and is being treated by the attending GP, within the home in which he resides with Betty. Derek has shown no sign of recovering from this re-current pneumonia and his health has deteriorated significantly over the last few days. Derek refuses to be re-admitted to hospital, where he has been treated many times in the past. Derek has stated that he wants to remain where he is and if it comes to it, he wishes to..'die with Betty present, holding her hand.' 

Betty has asked the nurses to ensure that she is present, as Derek reaches the final stages of life. The GP has stated that Derek is not expected to live through the next few hours and instructs the carers to make him as comfortable as possible, bearing in mind his do not resuscitate order and express wishes.

At 3am the same day, Derek deteriorates rapidly and his breathing becomes laboured and shallow as his respiratory rate drops significantly. The carers wake Betty from her sleep and inform her of Derek’s expected demise, and venture to allow Betty to spend the last valuable moments with him, holding his hand has expressed previously.

During the transition of taking Betty to Derek's room, the carers discover that Betty's wheelchair has a major mechanical fault previously unnoticed, and therefore conclude that it would be dangerous to use the chair in this instance. One of the carer's goes to locate a replacement chair for Betty to be transported in.

Unfortunately, in the time it takes to find a replacement chair, the carers discover that Derek has stopped breathing and has passed away. The carers are upset that Derek has died and that Betty was unable to spend the last precious moments with Derek. They are concerned that Betty will be distressed knowing that Derek died alone without her by his side, in his final moments. They consider telling Betty that Derek is still alive and allow her to sit and hold his hand for a while and then tell her he has passed away a little later, taking in to account her blindness and hearing problems.

What should you do?

(Vanessa Peutherer - Scenario Writer) 

It is proposed that you lie to Betty, allowing her to sit with Derek believing he is still alive