Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Celebrating Practice

My old friend and colleague David Ash ( centre) with the staff of the Spinal Injury Unit Sheffield

I work for a health board which is in " special measures"
This is not the place to discuss such matters, but suffice to say that for a variety of reasons, I am , unfortunately ashamed of the place that employs me.
Of course at times like these, good practice and excellent care can sometimes be overlooked . Especially when morale is low and policies and proceedures overwhelm Workers on the shop floor.
I 'll share with you a short story.
A few weeks ago , I took handover from a fairly -new-to-ITC nurse called Caroline.
It was Caroline's last shift on intensive care and her handover was detailed and precise. Every aspect of her patient's care had been completed to a high standard. The family had been supported and given appropriate information and the patient had been washed with a diligent care   , with the myriad of lines and ivs all neatly labelled and organised. Caroline had done a good job on her busy day shift and I told her so.
When morale is low in a Hospital trust , positive feedback is sometimes the first thing to go missing I always think

Yesterday, I received some feedback for some ' basic' nursing care , I gave over a decade ago and it came out of the blue.
On facebook, I read an entry celebrating the work of one of my colleagues from the Sheffield Spinal Injury Unit who had recently retired.
Illustrating the entry was a group photo of the present day nursing and medical staff and I left a bright a breezy comment wishing my old colleague well and commenting that I only recognised a few " old faces"
A former patient from the unit commented on my comment. He wrote

Pete *" I remember you John, I think, were you not in charge of Osbourne 1, and was planning on moving to Wales, if so then I remember you well, you took the time to wash my hair for me, after a month of being in ICU, I will never forget the feeling of the warm water running over my head, simple things hey, but that I am so grateful for.

I was incredibly moved that this guy had remembered this tiny bit of essential but ever so simple piece of care after ten years and I was reminded that time and time and time again, I witness such unsung moments at my place of work . Moments that will be remembered but perhaps overlooked in
this climate of " special measures"
So all of us, but especially to the managers who have to firefight on a daily basis.
Take a minute to praise those small vital moments of nursing care


49 comments:

  1. I felt quite emotional reading this. I can imagine how wonderful your patient must have felt to have his hair washed. When my elderly Nan was hospitalized several years ago I remember that the staff never had time to wash her hair. Just having a clean head of hair and knowing you are cared for and respected speaks volumes. x

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  2. How lovely that Pete M remembered that moment. As for "special measures" it sounds like the kind of language that OFSTED uses to condemn schools that serve deprived communities. It is a cover-all judgement that does not take into account the excellence of certain individuals and practices within the organisation or the problems caused by insufficient funding. Some of these highly paid inspectors need to be put into special measures by wrestlers built like Giant Haystacks!

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  3. I've spent enough time in hospital to know that those 'small' bits of care are rare and priceless. Like you. x

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  4. Last month, I had to stay for the first (and hopefully last) time ever in an intensive care ward for a few days. It has been absolutely impressive, I was surrounded by patient angels. There is no the word for it.
    What an important and amazing job you have!!!!

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  5. When my mother was in hospital (she died a long time ago, the last time was 14 years ago so this is no comment on present conditions), I observed that the care was highly variable. Some nurses were wonderful, especially in intensive care, but others were unkind and seemed to despise their patients. Poor management is another thing again, of course. A friend's husband, a surgeon, took early retirement because he just couldn't bear the mis-management any more, by people paid more than he was.

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  6. Most people remember the times when we were vulnerable and a kindness was done for us. A small act can be life changing for the receiver. Now this former patient has returned the favor by letting you know you were remembered and much appreciated.

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  7. If ever I find myself in intensive care, I hope I have a nurse like you, John.

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  8. Very well said John! I for one salute all the unsung members of the NHS who do such a good job under increasingly difficult circumstances.

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  9. Good and caring work, will always be remembered. I am still sorting through my experiences this past spring, some really good, some not so. The great one's stand out.

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  10. Made me cry ...
    When my daughter was 15, she was in a horrible accident, involving a tractor trailer truck. going off the highway .. in the mountains.
    It just so happened that it was around 5 am and no one was on the highway, when a car with nurses on the way to the areas small hospital came by. They found my daughter, lying in a puddle of diesel fuel, thank god it was raining.
    Help came, they called me, I went , surgeries happened, spleen was pulverized / removed , 2 weeks later she came home.
    Those nurses saved my daughters life , continued to care for her lovingly when her mom was not there, helped shop for her to have clothes to fly home .. Nurses, Angels ... same thing.

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  11. Shame the CQC does not measure the caring and compassionate side of nursing on their inspections

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  12. Nice one John. To be thanked for even the smallest thing is such a wonderful thing, a comfort in a difficult world, and so often people don't. I have had some nice words from managers recently and I know what a difference it makes.xx

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  13. I will always remember and be forever grateful for the nurse who cared for my brother who was in hospital dying of cancer....before and after he slipped into a coma she talked to him so gently as tho he was her own son. rubbed his back kept his parched lips moisturized and made what time he had count.

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  14. Cheers to all of you compassionate people who take care of us when were down and out. Nursing not an easy job and I thank you.

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  15. From one in health care to another, I tip my hat to you Sir. Thank you for doing what you do.

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  16. As more and more nursing care becomes technology based, it is still the human touch, the simplest small things which can bring forth healing.
    You're a good man, John Gray.

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  17. Wonderfully well done, John! Caring medical staff make such a difference in their patients' lives and I know they aren't thanked nearly enough.

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  18. In my recent 2.5 day hospitalization I was amazed by the regimentation of the care, not the quality, Someone made sure I could walk OK when home, and use stairs. Someone made sure I had help at home, could dress myself. Someone told me my rights. No one showed me how to use my sling. More Johns, please,

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  19. This post reminds me of a time when the kindness and caring of one nurse made a huge difference for me when I was in the hospital, sick as a dog and wondering if I was ever going to rejoin the world of the living. I tell the story about her often. In my mind she is an absolute rock star. Imagine how many times your kindness is remembered and discussed, and by how many different people?

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  20. It's such memories, even of seemingly trivial things, that touch the heart, which become the most ingrained - and are stored up with pleasure for eternity.

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  21. Our main hosp is in 'special measures'. My best friend is being encouraged by her mum's gp, social services etc to complain about the care of her mother, whose treatment was so callous that she died. They caused her death (she went in for a little help, and died with dehydration 7 weeks later). Now my friend is in that same hospital with heart problems and the technician was so angry (with the description of her mother's care) that she had trouble inserting the canula for the test, and she too expressed hope that my friend would go through with the complaint. She will. I fear for her health tho.
    The good staff are outweighed by the bad ones (and don't even talk about the management bstrds, grrrr).
    I love the tv show about St Georges London, they saved my brother's life.
    x

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  22. I absolutely agree John - there are so many unsung heroes around and they far outnumber the 'baddies' but sadly don't get the same press.

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  23. It was lovely of the former patient to let you know he remembered the loving kindness you showed him, a simple thing as a clean head of hair can make you feel human when all around is clinical and scary.

    Think of all the other patients that you have helped and all the other happy and caring memories that are locked in their heads. One compliment paid is like an iceberg, there will be masses below the surface waiting to come to light. You are a kind man ..... slightly mad ... but kind :-)

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    1. I love the "slightly mad - but kind" comment Sue... it had me roaring with laughter.. and nodding at the same time.

      Jo in Auckland, NZ

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  24. I have to take warfarin. I had a bleed into my knee, I have had three children and I do not do it well, long labours etc., the pain in my knee was on the same level as labour. I was filled up with morphine and admitted into hospital. As the morphine wore off my body decided to get rid of it by making me pee; and pee; and pee. The same nursing assistant brought me a bed pan every time I rang, she changed the whole bed when I had a clumsy accident, she washed me down and changed my nightie. She did it all with a sympathetic manner, a kind smile, a joke and not once did she let my affected leg drop. What a sweet angel, how I loved her for the six hours she cared for me. Then bugger me she went off a few days leave and I could not tell her exactly what her care had meant to me. Some things cannot be taught, they are part of a persons intrinsic kindness. I also worked for the NHS and I do not take this kind of care lightly. God Bless her and all who go just those few metres further. Love Andie xxx

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  25. You have a history of Going Gently, including Gently Touching Hearts. Many people touch people's lives but rarely get validation. It's nice to hear, isn't it?

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  26. Watching my father's care during several hospitalizations, I can agree that there are many unsung small acts that make a huge difference to the patient and the patient's family. I always tried to help when I could (to turn my dad or help him eat or to give information that would help) and to thank individuals for their kindness. Some seemed born to be compassionate, and they brought me to tears with it. Others I only wondered why they had ever entered health care at all, but the good ones I recall with much gratitude.

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  27. We take so much for granted. I used to say that if all I did was get some juice for a patient, then I'd done a good thing because the patient couldn't get it herself.

    Love,
    Janie

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  28. I remember the kindness of nurses and some doctors from 18 years ago when I had a transplant: the nurse who sat on the floor when I couldn't sleep and chatted for ages in the middle of the night, the one who patiently changed a dressing that would not stay on about four times ( and laughed about it) and many others who were just brilliant, doing their job and most of all being human. Incidentally, I also am grateful to the consultant who always asked me what I was reading ( and teaching) at every outpatient appointment, it meant so much, that I wasn't 'just a patient'. We do remember nurses very well and I guess we overlook and forget the poor ones,( unfortunately there are a few).

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  29. A lesson for every facet of life.

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  30. We are so incredibly vulnerable when putting ourselves into the hands of medical staff. It's too often that we feel like numbers rather than human beings, once we're in The System.

    Of course, anyone lucky enough to have you wash their hair would surely remember it like an idyllic dream, n'est-ce pas?

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  31. It's posts like this that make me really want to be a nurse. I want to have a meaningful and direct impact on peoples lives, when they are in a vulnerable and scary situation. I'm going to my first nursing assistant program introduction meeting in a few weeks. I'm excited about it.
    I'm so f-ing tired of working in an office and feeling like it's all so meaningless every single day. Hoping to make a career change that I can feel good about.

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    1. Good for you, Zoe. The Buddhist concept of Right Work comes to mind. xxx

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  32. Those small bits of care are often as healing and as necessary as medication.
    Thank you for being you.

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  33. I would expect nothing less from you than the kind and simple, good thing that you did for him. You are a dear!

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  34. It takes a caring personality to be in the nursing profession, my granddaughter is taking her Registered Nurse Bachelor's Degree right now. She has such a kind heart, with people and animals alike, I hope her career always allows her to practice that talent. so many times nowadays orders from above ties their hands.
    ~Jo

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  35. Thanks for the comments
    What i wanted to share is the fact that it is so important
    1. To be thoughtful regarding the " small stuff" because that small stuff can be as important as the big
    2. Everyone needs feedback
    Xxx

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    1. Dear Sir John, Earl of Grey,

      This is to inform you of our findings regarding the quality of your blog entitled "Going Gently." While the frequency of your posting is ideal, the quality ranges from sublimely inspiring to cloyingly sweet. Still, regardless of this inconsistency, the regular inclusion of quaint and adorable photographs maintains your blog well above the minimal grade of "Meets Expectations."

      In future, we recommend a second review focusing on title selections on individual posts.

      Sincerely,
      Alison L, BA, MA, USA, PbbbbTH

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    2. Thank u
      John Gray
      RMN RGN DIP ( swimmng award II) x

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    3. Sir John, Earl of Grey ! LOL ... I love it. I love the review also.
      John , you and your little family and the pups are dear enough but I am pretty much loving all of your friends/followers too. It is a treat to come here each day :)
      Thank you one and all ...

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  36. You are so right, John. The difference between a good nurse and a great one is that a great one looks for things that make their patient blissful and happy. You are right about the praise too. I have just retired from 30 years of working with the disabled and if we didn't take the time to praise and recognize each other, then we would go without. That makes for an awfully long slough. I've seen far too many caregivers and nurses become bitter and I think that a word of appreciation would go a long way to prevent this.

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  37. We should all take time to share the good things we see around us to the people involved. Even amongst our very nearest and dearest, it's amazing how little one knows about the thoughts of the others around us, and how much it helps to verbalise the love and admiration we feel. That other person really may not know. Hubby and i recently had a check-in and it is amazing how much we assumed about how each other was feeling compared to the truth, and how much better the truth was!

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  38. This was a quote that I posted in my blog this morning .. I just realized the name ..

    "To offer a man unsolicited advice is to presume that he doesn't know what to do or that he can't do it on his own."
    JOHN GRAY

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  39. You have inspired me to write a note to our local hospital administrator about the wonderful care I received from the physical therapy department after some major surgery. The administration needs to hear it.

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    1. Bravo ! You will light up some spirits ..

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  40. Thank you, John.

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  41. Hi John, I was living in the US when my first son was born and while I'm not a scardy cat I have to admit labour was a bit of a shock. The Indian doctor was a complete bitch - I'm 10 cm dilated and she's showing me x-rays of her broken finger! Like I really gave a shit. She also did an episio 30 minutes before my son was born so she could get out of there. I had a lovely black nurse who kept rubbing my thigh and telling me how well I was doing - and you know what - it meant the world to me. After bubba was born I leaned over and took the nurse's hand and told her how much her support had meant to me. I also told her that the doctor would make a good butcher. Said nurse got a fit of the giggles (as did I) and she stopped by to see me every day before I left. Good woman.

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