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.”
Good news blog in Worcester news (Click on image to enlarge)
I have had a fantastic respose to the article published in the Worcester News above and Lisa wrote to in to the paper of her experience: http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/letters/read/10586417.Hospital_staff_are_absolutely_brilliant/)
She aslo emailed me personally and asked that I share this.
“I very much enjoyed reading the article in yesterday’s Worcester News about you and your “Good News” blog from Worcestershire Hospitals by Tarik Al Rasheed on Monday 29th July.
This article in the paper was very timely for me as I would like to say a huge thank you to Jane Brassington and her team at the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital. I am four months pregnant and after a series of miscarriages over the years this is the furthest I’ve gone and the department’s care was exemplary. I was offered scans at 6, 8 and 10 weeks prior to my official 12 week scan to ensure that all was going well with my pregnancy along with regular check-ups, and was able to call any time and speak to a nurse or midwife with any concerns or queries I had, no matter how small they were. I also had excellent care after suffering 6 miscarriages, including masses of tests to try and find out the cause and they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. My first husband and I then separated and divorced last year. I remarried in April this year to a wonderful man Russell, this is our first pregnancy together and it has gone swimmingly so far. We are ecstatic about the baby and can’t wait to be parents, God really does grant miracles as I honestly thought I would never be a mother.
As the article in the Worcester News states we hear such horror stories about mistakes and blunders in our hospitals and NHS system that it is all too easy to lose sight of the good care and treatment that patients receive, and I hope you will consider posting my “good news” story on your website.
I’ve written to the Worcester News too and I’m the Director and Founder of the Worcestershire Literary Festival – http://www.worcslitfest.com. I would love to include a link to your blog on our website and write a post for our own blog and newsletter to encourage those within our circles to send in their own good news stories. Please keep up the great work you are doing with the blog.
It still amazes me how readily people will share their good news stories if they are given a forum. A huge thanks to Lisa for writing so personally and honestly.And your story can appear here as well. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on this post. Good news can spread like wildfire if we let it.