It is the NHS’s 70th year this year. There has been a huge amount of different events to celebrate the 70th birthday but one thing I did come across recently on Twitter was #70nursebloggers and #70midwifebloggers inspired from a tweetchat held by Teresa Chinn the nurse behind @WeNurses (you can read more about Teresa on the Healthcare Heroes websiteand I am proud to have been a story alongside her in the book). They wanted to inspire 70 nurses and 70 midwives to either start blogging or speak up about their blog. Nursing now as a profession has changed so much recently and with the popularity of social media it becomes a bit of a minefield about what you can and what you cant do. Twitter for me is such a fantastic outlet to share experiences, knowledge and news about nursing, patient and public involvement and research.
I decided as a blog post I would share with the #70nursebloggers is my thoughts on #WMTY18
#WMTY18 or What Matters to You 2018 is a campaign across the NHS which aims to encourage and support more meaningful conversations between people who provide healthcare and those who receive it.
As I am both a nurse and a patient I wanted to split this post into 2 parts wearing my different hats.
#WMTY as a patient? Being a patient is sadly a large part of my life and through this I have had a mix of care over the years but fundamentally there are a few things that really matter to me when unwell in hospital. Naturally for healthcare professionals who see someone struggling to breathe they will tell them not to talk and save their breath or they try and finish what I want to say before I can manage- most of the time they guess wrong!!! I know it is because they care but it can be so frustrating especially if it is something important and affects your care but due to the guessing game going on care is delayed. I have a hospital bag that is always packed and ready to go. In that I make sure there is a pen and notebook so I can always write if its getting desperate!!! It seems like a really simple thing and may seem very petty but it makes all the difference when someone just takes the time to listen to you.
Anyone with a chronic condition and requires hospital treatment a lot will no doubt have had the intravenous access battle. The battle that can end up so distressing, painful and frustrating. When you are unwell your body shuts down peripherally so any veins you did have disappear and when having an asthma attack you mouth breathe a lot making you dehydrated causing the few veins that might have been there to go away too. For me the hard part comes when the tourniquet goes on and there are some veins which show up, the issue with these veins is the only reason they are more prominent is due to scarring. Some Drs and nurses are great and listen to you when you say that the vein won’t work because it has only appeared due to all the scar tissue but there are others who say they are great at dealing with patients who are difficult to cannulate so just let them try. If I really don’t have the puff I let them try and almost every time they fail and maybe after 3 or 4 times they will listen and go where I suggest. The issue I am having now is that those veins are now going to. Last time they had the sonosite out to find a vein, GTN spray on my skin to dilate the vessels and still it took a good few times to get a cannula in. If a patient does suggest where to go for a cannula especially if they have a chronic condition and had a lot of issues with access then listen to where they recommend. It alleviates a lot of distress and pain doing this and as a patient we appreciate it.
Lastly, and this is more of a comment really but just because your patient looks young it doesn’t mean they don’t need help. This more often happens with other patients who assume that because you are young then you are more able than they are and just think your being rude or selfish not helping them.
Taking the patient hat off and putting the nurse hat on!!
#WMTY18 as a nurse? I love being a nurse and really hope that my experience as a patient shapes how I communicate and treat my patients. For me as a nurse I really want to ensure that I speak to my patients and find out what is important to them, their lifestyle and hobbies etc. Patients are in a vulnerable position when they are unwell and don’t know what is happening or if their health is going to improve and they will feel better. In the acute setting it is harder to spend a lot of time chatting to patients and really getting to know them however in my role I do have the time to get to know what is important to them and their family. I take the view that if I can have a dialog with my patients they are more likely to open up about how they feel towards their condition, what might stop them from doing a certain treatment etc. Chronic illness like kidney failure has such a massive impact to not just the patients life but their entire family so making the treatment fit into their life as easily as possible is my aim. It may be that I want to give them a certain dialysis prescription which the patient may do but only does it very sporadically due to other commitments that they do not want to miss. The beauty with a home treatment is that it can be adapted to fit in with their life. It may not be the treatment that you would like them to do and give them the most dialysis but if it means the treatment is a little suboptimal but they are never missing a session and enjoying life without too many draw backs then it is a win in my opinion.
I also like to explain to patients that no one is a perfect patient. We all miss doses, or go off piste with a diet but its only natural and berating them is not going to achieve anything so making allowances is important. Explaining what could happen if they were rogue too many times but also explaining that if they over indulge in what they are not meant to one day then just take sure they are really good the next few days. It is all about compromise and I really hope that as a nurse I communicate that with my patients. After all it is their life, their condition and their treatment which we can only support them with and support them through the best we can. If we can give them the tools and the correct tools then patients should be in a more positive state of mind.
I really hope that this comes across when I speak to patients and families and I do make a conscious effort to ensure I do this and think about what I would want as a patient and how I would feel if I was in their shoes.
Take a moment and think about what matters to you? If you are a nurse what would matter to you as a patient or if a member of your family is a patient. What matters to them?