|Our Phone: which actually still works!|
To me, a "chit-chat" phone call only happens between the perimeters of say 9.00am to 9.30pm....outside those times phone calls are usually a sign that something is amiss.
This morning the phone rang three times well before 8am.
To put it delicately, I was busy "in the loo!" so had to be content with checking the answer phone to find out just why someone would be ringing me at such an antisocial time.
Luckily there was no real "disaster" to deal with, just a somewhat garbled phone message from an elderly villager who needed a hand to sort out a computer problem, but the phone call got me to thinking about acceptable and unacceptable telephone etiquette in this, our age where everyone and his mother owns a mobile phone.
I have received my fair share of "out of hours" phone calls which heralded the death of a loved one and there is nothing quite as blood chilling as that "ringggggg- ringgggg....ringggggg-ringggggg" that jars you out of a peaceful sleep and makes you gallop downstairs with a heavy heart and a lump in your throat.
I have had to make numerous of these kind of phone calls in my time. Mostly at work to be sure, but to be honest I have had to make quite a few that have been much more personal, and none of them have ever been easy calls to make.
Nurses never have any training in this sort of thing...you just pick it up as you go along. But there are several rules with this sort of thing that haves to be adhered to.
The first is that by hook and by crook, you should avoid making the phone call in the first place. Relatives and next of kin should be aware, if at all possible that their loved one is deteriorating and that they should come to the hospital immediately. In many of these kind of cases the patient often dies before the relatives arrive, but at least the nurse can break the bad news face to face, where physical as well as psychological support can be given personally and hopefully with some sensitivity.
If you have to break bad news over the phone, the rule is that it has to be done carefully, briefly and most importantly CLEARLY, as relatives will only hear a couple of words that you actually say to them.
All they will hear is "Hospital.....I am very sorry..... and "has died" very little else will register, especially in the lonely darkness of 2am in the morning.
Perhaps my work experience has coloured just how I feel about "inappropriately timed" phone calls.
So, if it is not an emergency please do not call me "out of hours"
... it's not rocket science!