On Thursday, like many of us, I got soaked to the skin. I had travelled across to the Alexandra Hospital on the motorbike as the rain lashed down, But it was so worth it. Why? Because I was supporting my Deaf friend William as he spoke about patient experience to our Trust Board. The Board, comprised of the Hospital leaders; chief exec; chief nurse; etc listened intently as far as I could see, as William explained certain cases where we could have done better for our Deaf patients. He was accompanied by Angie, any interpreter who used her skills, to voice for us what Willliam was saying and sign to him what the Board were saying. And it was a brilliantly clear presentation. William told us of the barriers to Deaf access to hospitals; from the technical language used in appointment letters to accessing help in an emergency situation. He said how some Deaf people would go to Deaf Direct to have the letters translated for them or to make telephone calls on their behalf. He told us of the isolation a Deaf person can face as an inpatient on the wards when none of the staff can sign. He mentioned new technology that can provide an interpreter instantly via a laptop or tablet. But most importantly he told us about Deaf Culture; which needs to be understood if we are to meet the patient’s needs. It is not just a case of being able to sign some words; but, as always, to inhabit the world of the other person and make them at home on their own terms. I also had the privilege of addressing the board, mentioning the 150 staff we have already trained in basic BSL, but also recognizing that, whilst a good start, there is way more that we can do. At the end, William, with his hearing dog Archie (how could I forget him until now) received a massive round of applause – expressed by the waving of our hands in the air. I was hugely encouraged. You will know that I am making it my aim to make Worcestershire Acute Trust the most Deaf Aware and Deaf Friendly Trust in the UK. And in the summing up by the Chairman, Sir David had captured the essence of the presentation and suggested some meaningful actions. That’s what happens when we listen to people and hear how we can do better meet their needs.
“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me!” What utter rubbish. We all know the power of words to hurt- from the taunts about our size or facial features to hateful racist chants. Words matter. And in my job, I have the chance every day to dispense some kind words. In fact, I do it, like most people, without noticing it…until someone mentions it.
And so the other day I was on Delivery Suite where I saw a midwife who I think is amazing both in attitude and professionalism. And I told her, in front of the Midwife-In-Charge how fantastic I thought she was. So I was so please to get a Tweet in the evening from the person I had complimented which said: “All it takes are a few kind words. Thank you @revdavesouthall You made my day so much better!” And guess what, that made me feel better too.
And a few days after spending some time with a family whose loved one was dying I received a lovely thank you card. “Dear David, your prayers, support and compassion for our Dad deserve a ‘Thank You’. We felt that the comfort and peace you gave us will have been felt by him, as us, in a tangible way. Also your kind words were appreciated.”
Kindness is a much under-estimated virtue. It can change people’s emotions. And any of us who deal with people, in whatever sphere of work, would do well to reflect on this. Kindness isn’t trendy or showy or loud. But kindness can have an impact far beyond its short utterance. Words matter because, as the song says: “Words are all we have.” And kind words matter a lot.
Of course we shouldn’t just speak kind words to get some praise back. But we should say them because they are true – and then let them work their way and do their good in the mystery of the cosmos. As Mother Teresa reminds us: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
So the Kings fund satisfaction survey has found that patient satisfaction has levelled out at 61% for 2012 following a fall from 70%, in 2010, to 58% in 2011.
But is a survey of 1,100 people (who may or may not be patients themselves) an important barometer of the NHS. It seems unlikely to me. Look at some of the comments on the BBC News Website.
“I think NHS is doing good job despite hard times. Patients should also learn to manage their expectations. I personally wouldn’t be bothered with substandard food and other comforts as long as NHS provides there core service which is Medical care to acceptable standard. And I think people who complain have not seen what bad care really is.”
“All my experience of the NHS has been good from my father’s care while dying, to when my children were ill,contrast this to experience in other systems
US:My brother broke his neck during company take-over,they stabilised him but refused to treat until they were sure his new company would insure him
Canada: My daughter had a nose bleed that wouldn’t stop and the charge was $600 for 5 minutes”
“I was rushed in to hospital last year and the treatment I had was faultless. All the staff were a credit to their profession. The only problem I found was lack of communication but I guess something has to give when you are under-staffed and morale is low. Let’s see what the figures say in a year when the current changes start to bite”
Vist http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22007487 to see more comments. Not all are glowing- but not by a margin of 39%.
So send your good news stories of Worcester to hospital to me via the details on the CONTACT ME tab.
Just the sort of thing I hope others will send me. It’s good to hear this experience, so well written. Keep them coming.
Christina James, crime novelist
Earlier this week, I was booked into my local NHS hospital as a day-patient in order to undergo a minor medical procedure. I’ve always had excellent service from the NHS and try to take the trouble to say so each time I use it, as it has had, just recently, a lot of bad press. The irreproachable care that it dispenses 95% of the time often fails to get a mention.
Mine was the first generation to benefit from the NHS from birth. Early memories include solemnly hanging on to the handle of the pushchair when my younger brother was being taken to the clinic. (That pushchair was something else: made of a kind of khaki canvas, with solid metal wheels, it folded up crabwise, so that the wheels lay flat under the canvas. It weighed a ton and had been used by several babies in the family. If they’d…
View original post 606 more words