Thursday, 12 December 2019

Task Orientated

I feel a little caught at the moment
Caught between work and home.
I worked a long day yesterday, will be going to work soon on a half day late and will be working a long day again tomorrow and again on Sunday
The times in between seem caught up with sleeping, chasing solicitors and dog walking
tis the way of the world.

Now nurses employ several coping mechanisms in order to deal with the stressors of the job.
When young, burning the candle at both ends is often the way to go. Black humour and sassy team support are others
Mindfulness, alcohol, holidays and duvet bashing  all have their place too,
as does Task Orientation!

For those that don't know Task Orientation is where a nurse concentrates on the physical tasks that need to be done at work rather than the more stressful patient centred activities.
The job can be as mindless as you like ( when I was a charge nurse I often used to spend an hour or two a week pruning and watering a rooftop garden I had designed for my ward patients to enjoy.) but the activity allows you to come down from the mental pressures of dealing with constant distress in order to recharge or regroup.

Yesterday, late morning
It was my job to change the syringe driver medication for a dying patient
(syringe drivers, for those that don't know are medical devices that administer a specific amount of medication to a patient during a 24 hour period and medication which can be a mixture of analgesia, sedatives, anti nausea meds and the like)

The patient is a young woman and she is alone and unconscious.
It is rare to find this patient without her family and I noticed that they had left some music playing in their absence. The music sounded like the theme to Amelie

In the restfulness of the room I sat down at the bedside and occupied myself to the task in hand.
The muscle memory in my fingers is now established after the changing of scores of these syringes and the quiet task was a welcome diversion from another busy morning.

After changing a second device I stopped a moment and looked at my young patient, automatically checking her breathing rate and depth.
Then I sat  still for a moment, listening to the music that was playing.
I had finished my tasks
I had several more tasks to do
But I sat there with my hands in my lap for ten long minutes doing nothing more than being there

A quiet hospice room by the sea, and The theme from Amelie played sweetly on the piano


  1. Good on you for taking the time to sit beside her. There is comfort in just being present.

  2. Oh, you have made me cry.

  3. She I am sure will have known you were there.


    1. I think you may have missed the point of the post..its about coping rather than anything else more noble xxxx

    2. You do yourself down John. The carer needs some care, if that was your way of cutting yourself some slack, so be it.


  4. Exactly what you needed at that moment in time. x

  5. It's a very rewarding profession but the amount of work is brutal. Not only the physical, as you say, but watching human suffering is not an easy task. I have only been to a hospital twice, but both times the nurses have been a source of comfort that has come just at the right moment.
    I know this was about self-care, but paraphrasing RuPaul, how in the hell are we gonna care about someone else if we don't take care of ourselves?
    Thanks for what you do, dearheart. And no, I won't take a 'no , thanks' for response.


  6. I think lots of occupations have this too. It is a human necessity.

  7. I'm a do-er when it comes to handling stress too, but the task has to be mindless. I'll usually put off cleaning the cooker but if I'm tired or over-stressed, setting aside time to do it, and then being able to think, well, that's done, always helps a bit. My sister is the same.

  8. Replies
    1. Lol in a way i was x

    2. Only Mavis could get away with pointing this out.

    3. Sometimes skiving is good for the soul ... and the companionship may have been sensed by the sleeping patient.

  9. Finding the balance is key in life. I find the older one gets it is much easier to find it.
    That 10 minutes must have been heaven, John.

  10. That's very evocative music anyway. I can't imagine what it must have been like in that setting.

  11. As my life changes I like to try to ebb and flo like the beautiful music,when possible x

  12. Barbara Anne3:57 pm

    It's refreshing to BE where you are, concentrating on what you're doing, with no thought of what's next or next or next. Sanctuary is where you find it or it finds you.


  13. Anonymous4:07 pm

    Go with the flow and take time for yourself. How we deal with stress is what makes it manageable. Wishing you, and your Readers ... a Very Merry Christmas, with Blessings of a Very healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year! Love your blog John!

  14. This brought tears to my eyes, what a soulful, calming, piece of music. I can only imagine the setting, overlooking the sea and comforting a fellow-being as she slowly slips away.
    A little bit of quiet in a not so quiet world.

  15. My personal time on nights was gazing out the window during the first minutes of sunrise. Beautiful, peaceful and a reminder of the grander scheme of things.

  16. A task for everyone, create the playlist you would want playing, if you were John's patient that day. If you don't your family will, or worse, the TV will blare endless reruns of shows you hate as the sound track of the end of your life. For me, Jimmy Buffet, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra.

  17. I'm glad you had those minutes to de-stress and recharge. I don't get stressed at work; my stressors are my own and my mom's health issues, and my ways to de-stress are to read, look at silly animal memes, and visit the charity shops to look at all the crap people donate!

  18. There speaks an experienced, sensible nurse who does things at the right pace when he can. Others can learn a lot from that approach John.

  19. I suspect you NEEDED that ten minutes. I am very, very glad you took it.

  20. Excellent way to take a 10 minute break.

  21. You needed it. She needed someone there, even if unconscious. By doing that you go on to the next task better prepared

  22. Good on you for taking a break self preservation is important as well to get you through the day.

  23. What a very sad picture you paint. I like to think she could hear the music.

  24. Anonymous10:39 am

    John, Thank you for this account of the push and pull of your profession and your coping strategies. Through your recount and wisdom, I think I can identify ways in which I cope in my own profession of teaching. Thank you again xo

  25. I’ve been in many hospice rooms over the years, but alone with my sister for brief periods at St. Luke’s. Heartbreaking and comforting at the same time. As you know, I think the world is a better place thanks to people like you. (But can you somehow make it better still? It needs some serious help.)


I love all comments Except abusive ones from arseholes