What I learnt over the past few days (things that I already knew but which were illuminated during this time):
- the way in which nurses speak to relatives on the phone (I was on holiday in Greece at the time of my daughter's admission) is so important. Letting the relative know that they are welcome to contact the ward at any time is so reassuring.
- providing information to the patient (and repeating that information if needed) with patience is crucial to the feeling of security in an alien environment.
- appearing to have time to answer questions etc at the point of discharge empowers both the patient and the relative.
All of these are small things but indicate the care and compassion that I have spoken about before on my blog. Being present in a ward (as a visitor) exposed me to the day-to-day interactions and actions of the nurses and others in a way that is so powerful. In England the Department of Health has developed a consultation/discussion document which aims to embed a culture of compassion (amongst other things) within nursing and other healthcare. I don't think there will be many things in the document that we could disagree with particularly - but what I want to do is really think about the proposals for the enactment of the intentions/vision. How can we make sure that the nurse provides a close interaction with the patient and the relative at point of discharge for example? And how can we ensure that the education that we offer enables students to work with patients and others so that they are empowered partners in the care experience?