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'My mother was chemically restrained', claims doctor


Dr Sabina Brennan

Dr Sabina Brennan

Dr Sabina Brennan

A Trinity College researcher has revealed harrowing details of her mother's treatment in a hospital and nursing home to highlight the need for a new approach to caring for the elderly.

Dr Sabina Brennan heads Trinity's NEIL Research Programme, which looks at areas including dementia.

She was speaking at a conference on long-term care held in Dublin when she revealed her own family's story.

Dr Brennan's mother, Colette O'Reilly, was hospitalised in 2013 and spent time in an acute hospital.

Dr Brennan claimed that during her stay her mother had been "chemically restrained" because she had been walking the hospital corridors, seeking to go home.

"I can tell you from my two-and-a-half year journey with my mum that we should be ashamed, utterly ashamed, of how we treat older adults in Ireland," said Dr Brennan.

"I arrived in between 10 or 11am and I found my mum in a chair beside her bed, with her knuckles on the floor, slumped over. Her mouth was open and she was drooling.


"She was aware, but she was completely immobile."

The sedation had made it difficult for her mother to talk, and she was terrified as a result of the medication, Dr Brennan claimed.

She said that in another incident during her hospital stay, Mrs O'Reilly was left in pain for 11 hours because the nurse was unable to prescribe painkillers other than one dose of paracetamol.

"How can a nurse chemically restrain my mother in one incident and not relieve her pain in another? Something is radically wrong," said Dr Brennan.

A number of worrying incidents also happened in a nursing home where Mrs O'Reilly had spent time and which violated her human rights, Dr Brennan claimed.

These included one occ-asion when staff forgot to feed Mrs O'Reilly while she was with family members.

"I'm doing this to make the future different for my children. I don't want them to live through this with me," said Dr Brennan.

"I hope we can influence policy."