A Woman’s Courage: Patient’s Teach Lessons about the 6C’s Too!

Courage comes in many guises

Courage comes in many guises


Courage comes in many guises. Immediately one thinks of the courage of our armed services in the theatre of battle. Or indeed the courage of those who face victimisation or oppression because of what they believe. In fact, in nursing at the moment, COURAGE is one of the 6C’s which combine to make outstanding care. But it’s easy to miss the attributes and virtues that relatives bring into our hospitals and which are inspirational.

Recently,I have seen COURAGE face to face in my Hospital.

So I was called to a ward and walked into the dimly lit side room and in the gloom made out two figures. A poorly and frail man in the hospital bed, and a woman sitting at his side holding his hand. She was his wife of 40 years, had been his carer for the last decade due to a stroke; and now, when his time was drawing near to leave this earth, was there at his side.

For hours on end, day after day, she would sit with him. When he slept, she rested. When he woke, she reassured him- bringing comfort and peace that no one else could.

And as we chatted, she told me about their life together: of the dogs and holidays; the good times and the bad; and all of it was infused with pragmatism and love. I visited that room a number of times; each time she was there doing what she could, not because it was expected, but because it was the right thing for them.

Now to have an illness yourself is often bearable. But to watch someone you love and are linked to go through something is, well at times, agonising. I did my best for this lady and man. I made her cups of tea; purloined some biscuits; gave her time to tell her story. But I couldn’t walk her journey; merely tread a few steps with her along the way.
She was, I believe, with him when he passed away; but if not- then he still would have known of the love which surrounded him.

We can learn a lot from books; a lot from colleagues; a lot from the internet.
But for me, if I want to know what courage is, I need look no further than this woman.

Now that’s courage.

Treading in the Footsteps of Others: A Chaplain’s Compassion

Others will follow your footsteps easier than they will your advice.

Others will follow your footsteps easier than they will your advice.

I used to play a game on the beach with my daughter when she was younger.
I would walk along the shoreline, barefooted in the wet sand, and she would follow me, trying her best to walk in my footprints and not leave a mark of her own.

It’s easy to think that we are IT isn’t it? Well it is for me at least!
The fact that we are here NOW is obvious. But many have trodden these paths before us, doing the job that we do, making a difference.
We really do stand on the shoulders of giants.

This was brought home to me by a recent email from a retired Chaplain who was a perdecessor of mine: Canon Lisle Ryder.

Lisle had seen mention of my blog somewhere and wrote to express his appreciation. He worked at Castle Street and Ronkswood before the new site and was instrumental in the spiritual care provision (including our lovely Prayer Room) at the present site of Worcestershire Royal Hospital until 2003.

And in amongst all that he went about his business of caregiving and compassionate actions.

Lisle sent me a beautiful poem with a short explanation, which for me sums up what the business of Chaplaincy and care in the NHS are about. It moved me; and I hope it does the same for you.He says:

“This is about Jim (I’ve used his real name). I had been with when his wife had a stroke and he was a wonderful support through her recovery. Later he was admitted himself as a patient and in the meantime his wife Isabel had died. He so much appreciated seeing someone who remembered her.

Jim

You look so pleased to see me
from far along the ward – Jim:
I recognised you after several years and,
returning after analgesia relieved the pain,
shared Communion. Christ’s love
which reminded you of the struggle
of Isabel. Memories re-enacting
that stroke which took so much.
I recalled her first words, that revealed her
Scottish – the long commitment you made
to her recovery. You took her home – risen.
Her life I remember vivid, but her death
is absence.
I left you sorrowful, but
somehow thankful for what we’d known, and shared
and treasured of Isabel – her courage, our faith
made new there at the bedside. Bread
and wine hallowed again and again – risen.

WARNING: The Department of Health Doesn’t Endorse this BLOG

THIS BLOG IS NOT ENDORSED BY THE DoH READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

THIS BLOG IS NOT ENDORSED BY THE DoH
READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

I love this blog!
Well I would say that wouldn’t I.
I believe it is truly DEMOCRATIC and gives people a voice in the NHS and their great experiences of being cared for.

And I continue to write letters and emails and Tweets which try to get the ‘worthies’ to publicise the Chaplain’s Blog.

And so my local politicians like Robin Walker MP and Harriet Baldwin MP have come in and given there support to what you are doing, in your stories, anecdotes, and good experiences.

“I know,” I thought. “I am sure that the Department of Health would want to plug my Blog. I know it’s nothing special but they are in charge of the whole set up.”

And so I wrote to them detailing what the blog was about.

How it was intended to spread good news.
How my survey showed that it increased staff morale and community confidence in the hospials.
How it had been taken up by politicians and the media alike.
and how a staggering 200,000 people like you had viewed it.

I was sure that they could do something to endorse it. After all, I thought, they want to increase staff morale and patients confidence on our NHS.

Now, sometimes, what’s blindingly obvious to one person is not to another- so it seems that me and the DoH were singing from different Hymnsheets.

And in response to my email I got this letter…

“Dear Dr Southall,

Thank you for your correspondence of 17 February to Dan Poulter about your Chaplain’s Blog. I have been asked to reply. The Department of Health is always pleased to read good news stories about the NHS.
Just as complaints help the NHS to deal with things that go wrong, stories such as those on your website let people know where good practice can be found. It helps them to tell others in the health service how to improve the way that they serve the public and to make sure that patients get the service that they expect and deserve.
Giving praise where praise is due gives great encouragement to staff who strive every day to meet the needs of the people in their care. As you know, their jobs can often be very demanding and words of thanks are an important boost to their morale.
However, as you will be aware, the provision of healthcare services is a matter for the NHS locally and the Department of Health does not play a role in the complaints or praise process, which should be free of political interference to ensure there is no question of bias. It would therefore not be appropriate for the Department of Health to endorse your website. I hope this reply is helpful.

Yours sincerely, Malcolm Jones. Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries”

SO BE WARNED!
NOTHING YOU READ HERE IS ENDORSED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH!

Not the stories of your great medical treatment
Not the accounts of the compassion and kindness you have told us about
Not the anecdotes which tell of those going over and above the call of duty
Not the tales of the care your recieved in your tragedy

NONE OF IT IS ENDORSED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
YOU READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

FUNNY OLD WORLD ISN’T IT!

I Just Can’t Imagine It…On the Loss of a Baby

No footprint is to small to leave its impact on the world

No footprint is to small to leave its impact on the world

I JUST CAN’T IMAGINE IT…I’VE TRIED BUT I CAN’T!

I have three teenage children and life is often chaotic, but I wouldn’t be without them – even on the worst of days. And whilst, like many of us, we have had our fair share of tragedy, we are all still here.

But really I can’t begin to imagine what it is like for the mother, carrying her baby for so long, to lose this little one. And what it must be like for dad, or grandparents, or family and friends.

To be confronted with the loss of a fragile little life seems cruel; no, it is cruel. And as much as I try, I can’t put myself in that place.

But I can imagine the treatment I would want from the health professionals around me in a situation like this. I want medical competence, of course. But I want understanding and compassion and sensitivity and care.

This is a big ask anywhere. Who is up to such a task?

Well, I received a most moving letter from someone whose daughter had just lost a baby and was care for on Lavender Unit at Worcestershire Royal Hospital. Did they receive such treatment? READ ON:

“I am writing to you as I note you wish to hear of the wonderful work done at the hospital.

My daughter was cared for over six days whilst she sadly suffered a late miscarriage on Lavender Ward recently.

Every single member of staff we encountered was outstanding in their dedication to their very difficult work. Not only do such circumstances demand the highest level of medical care, but also a clear understand of very complex emotions.

Firstly, the cleaners. They were just so lovely as they unobtrusively appeared and kept [N’s] room beautiful- their level of attention to detail and kindness was wonderful.
Then the Health Care Assistants- so discreet and careful as they made sure my daughter was comfortable and was eating enough to keep her energy up.

And the doctors and consultants, of whom there were many, and yet the consistency of approach and continuity of care was outstanding. Their skills and compassion created an atmosphere of confidence and most certainly diminished my daughter’s most extreme fears.

And, of course, the nurses. I lost count of how often I saw them work beyond their designated shift times to ensure [N’s] wellbeing. Their clear knowledge and understanding of her circumstances, and their swift action at the most difficult times exemplified the very best of human endeavour.

Not only that, but everyone working on the ward showed such care and concern for me and for my daughter’s partner.

Since her discharge, I would also like to pay tribute to the Bereavement Services from the Hospital who visited [N] and her partner at home. Their visit coincided with a very hard period for her – one of those days when it is easy to be overwhelmed by sadness and loss. The visit visibly lifted both of them, allowing them to express their deepest thoughts and to receive exactly the right comfort to sustain them as they adjust to their lives.

I have written to the ward, but saw your request on the website. It’s so important, especially in our negative media-led times not to overlook the everyday work of the highest levels of professionalism which goes on in our Hospitals.”

[Name and Address Supplied]

SILENCE! S’il Vous Plait

shhhhhh...

shhhhhh…

SILENCE IS S RARE COMMODITY – well in my life at least!
Here is Claudia’s story which inspired her poem.

Hello David,

My name is Claudia Waterhouse , I am French, I work in Endoscopy Department in Worcestershire Royal Hospital. Although I have seen you and I am a regular follower of your blog which I love ( I may add ), I have never really met you face to face until today and it was a real pleasure to meet you and the other two chaplains you were with and I hope I did not disturb you too much .
I am very continental and I love the art of talking, singing and laughing and after singing a Christmas song yet again last week one of my colleague who is lovely suggested jokingly that I should be gagged as I could never be quiet .
After this comment , an idea started to form , what if I did a sponsored silence for eight hours and donate all the proceeds to the Heart Foundation Charity?
Most of my colleagues thought I could never do it as I am a lively character but today Tuesday 4 th of February 2014 I succeeded to do eight hours of silence whilst at work ( in a non clinical area just for the day ) and it was challenging for me to do so .
The reason I am writing to you is to tell you how overwhelmed I am by people’s kindness and response to my sponsored silence and to tell you how amazing these people are. People from all areas such as my unit,Theatre, service point, path lab , ward, reception,chaplains, porter, family etc… donated and thanks to their kindness I have raised 104 pounds for The British Heart Foundation.
Whilst I was doing this sponsored silence , I noticed Also some people did not know how to react to my silence , some shouted louder thinking I was deaf which made me smile , others found it hard to communicate with me which made me realise how people with real disability must feel .In order to tell you how I felt I wrote a poem , and as promised to you today I am sending it to you.the title is ” look at me “

Having restrained myself from speaking
In aid of raising money today for charity
I can see how some people are responding
To my “would be ” disability.

Some shout, others do not want to speak
I am feeling like a total stranger
Is it a lack of knowledge or fear that make them weak
For this I have no reason nor answer.

I am still the person that you know
My intelligence remains the same
Like you I have feelings of joy and sorrow
Your non communication is driving me insane.

Do not judge me on what you see
Take time to stop and notice the person in front of you
If only for a day in my shoes you could be
You would realise I want the same respect as you do.

We are all humans and we are just one race
Trying to live this life of beauty
I want to be loved , I want to feel safe
Regardless of my creed, colour or disability .

A big thank you to you and your colleagues David for donating and taking the time to listen to me .

With many thanks again and kind regards

Claudia Waterhouse

If I’m ever ill, it’s the Alex for Me!

I'd Choose the Alex!

I’d Choose the Alex!

Recommendation is the highest praise.

And I was delighted to get this comment from Mr. Haywood prioritising the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch over another place.

No need for exhaustive comments, just read what he has to say!

“Dear Ms D Narburgh (Matron)

Please could you convey to all the staff on ward 6 (Cardiac), my sincere Thanks for the treatment I received during my stay. Sister Kat and her staff at all times were caring and attended to all my needs and nothing was too much trouble.

All staff were courteous and respectful of my privacy, my stay at your hospital, although I was seriously ill the care I received was second to none. I work at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, and if ever I’m ill in the future my choice of hospital to be cared for would be the Alex.

Once again

Thank You keep up the good work.

Mr Mark Haywood”

Worcestershire Acute Staff Named and Shamed: Read it here first!

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SORRY! Did I say “SHAMED”… I meant “PRAISED”.

I always get those words mixed up. Silly me!

But now that you’re here, maybe it’s time to reflect on what made you click on the link.

I wonder…

Was it because you are a regular follower of the BLOG and you wondered what was going on. After all this is a good news blog and it’s not like me to do this is it?

Or maybe it was the despair at seeing another bad news story about the NHS? “What is it now?” you asked yourself.

Or maybe it was that CULTURAL INFECTION, that we have without knowing it, that bad news is the way in which we see the world. That we shrug and read with titillated interest. “Another one! Glad I wasn’t caught out this time!”

So while you take a moment to reflect, read this good news story of a patient’s family who wanted to say thank you. The two named people are a Nurse and a Ward Clerk. And when I asked Bethan the nurse what she thought of the message she just said “It makes it all worthwhile.”

Dear All,
Just a brief note to say thank you for all the care and attention you gave to my father [Name Omitted] during his stay on Laurel 2.
Although the final outcome was not as we’d hoped, he was appreciative of all the treatment he received, as he has had a very real fear of being elderly and ill in Hospital.
A special thank you to BETHAN and NATALIE, who not only were lovely to Dad, but also to all our family. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.
With kind regards from us all,
[Name and address supplied]

Good News is the cultural antidote that we need to fight our national infection.
It doesn’t me we don’t challenge the poor stuff, discipline to downright bad and commit ourselves to improvement.

It does mean that we spare a chance to reflect on the great achievements that happen day in/day out in the NHS.

SERMON OVER!