Patient Safety Group – PSG (not Paris Saint-Germain) by Emma McGauchie

Given that it is the year of the world cup we thought we would change our name to that of a football team.   For those of you (Eddie) who don’t follow football PSG stand for Paris Saint Germain and has a catchy ring to it!

Like some of these famous football players my job role as Adverse Events Co-ordinator is just as exciting!! I oversee the whole of NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s Adverse Events and risk.

I also co-ordinate the organisations Significant Adverse Event investigations and reviews and it was at one of the review meetings that I was put forward to write this blog – Cheers Ken!

I love to make the most of every opportunity therefore I thought I would use this blog to share with you some exciting changes you can expect to see over the coming year.

But firstly we would like to make a clear, public commitment to staff that our organisation supports an open and fair culture, by letting you all read a Key statement from our chair and  co-chair person, Eddie Docherty and Ken Donaldson (on behalf of Patient Safety Group (PSG))…….

“There is no doubt that over the years there has been a culture of blame in the NHS.

As chair and co-chair of the Patient Safety Group, we would like to see us move to a culture where we learn and improve from any failure.

It is our firm belief, that in a complex system like the NHS, it is often not the practitioner’s fault when things go wrong.

Staff will be treated fairly and supported to identify the failures in the system and improve service delivery.

We require ongoing honest reporting of concerns at the earliest possible stage to do what we can to ensure your working environment is safe. We would therefore ask all healthcare professionals to continue to raise all concerns in the appropriate manner predominantly by using Datix “.

 

During my first year as adverse event coordinator I found myself being asked two frequent questions, “Who are QPSLG?” and “What do they do?”

New name

Firstly the Quality and Patient Safety Leadership Group also known as QPSLG or “Quiggle Spiggle” have changed their name to Patient Safety Group (PSG for short).   We are confident this change of name will give a better understanding to everyone what we do.

PSG 9

 

Who are PSG?

Let me introduce you to a few of our members…..

Eddie Docherty

PSG 1As Executive Director of nursing midwifery and allied health professions I chair PSG. I am passionate about pushing the organisation forward as a learning environment, with a key focus on patient and staff safety.

 

Ken Donaldson

PSG 2For the past 8 years I have developed an interest in enhancing patients experience and ensuring staff experience is as good as it can be – which is difficult with current staffing issues and recruitment challenges. I believe my role in PSG is to ensure a balanced and fair approach to all serious adverse events and complaints. We need to focus on learning from error, improving systems and providing robust feedback – an area we are working on to improve. ‘To err is human…

Andy Howat

My role as the Board’s Health & Safety Adviser involves identifying, helping manage, reduce and control exposure to workplace hazards. With the ultimate aim of reducing the number of incidents, accidents and ill health in the organisation.

I work with teams helping them assess risks, develop risk reduction strategies, instigate changes in working practice, develop and deliver coaching/training, and offer advice on all aspects of workplace safety and occupational wellbeing.

I have been part of the Patient Safety Group for about a year now and I am regularly involved in reviewing significant incidents, considering the staff, patient and organisational affect these have and trying to enable the development of practical and pragmatic ways of reducing the likelihood and consequence but, ultimately the prevention of these incidents.

Stevie Johnstone

“My name is Stevie Johnston and I provide administrative support to PSG by not only co-ordinating the meetings but by working with others throughout the organisation to gather updates on incidents and investigations.  My knowledge around adverse events and the investigation process was limited but the group has given me the confidence to ask questions from a different perspective during meetings and the review process.  I have recently undertaken Adverse Events Training and look forward to putting this into practice in order to understand why errors happen, how we can stop them from happening again and how we can share learning in order to support others within NHS Dumfries and Galloway”

Linda Mckechnie  

PSG 3As Lead Nurse/Professional Manager, Community Mental Health Services, One of the most important things for me is to always look at what we can learn when things go wrong or don’t go as well as they should. This might be individual learning for staff, learning for teams or services, or learning across the organisation(s). Supporting staff when things go wrong is essential in order to encourage learning and reflection.

 

Emma Murphy

As Patient Feedback Manager, I regularly support Directorates with high level and complex complaints.  These complaints may be linked to adverse events or have other potential patient safety implications.  Sitting on the Patient Safety Group allows me to update members on relevant complaints as well as ensuring I have an overview of new and significant adverse events.   By building better links between patient safety and patient feedback, we can improve organisation learning and the patient experience.

Joan Pollard

PSG 4As Associate Director of Allied Health Professions I am the professional lead for AHPs and manage the Patient Services Team and the corporate complaints team.

I am curious about processes and culture, passionate about quality and love developing people and teams.

 

Susan Roberts

I am passionate about supporting staff to learn from errors, near misses or complaints to improve care and therefore my role as professional lead on PSG is a priority for me.  It’s not always easy for us to reflect when things go wrong but this process, if supported well, not only benefits patients it helps the staff involved too.

Christiane Shrimpton

PSG 5Associate Medical Director for Acute and Diagnostics, passionate about excellent patient care, keen to use any available opportunity to ensure we improve what we do and learn from situations that have gone well as well as those that have not gone so well.

 

Maureen Stevenson

PSG 6As Patient Safety & Improvement Manager I am passionate about making every day an Improvement Day. I passionately believe that creating the conditions for staff and our communities to learn and share together will enable us to together find practical solutions that improve the quality, the experience and the safety of health and care.

 

Alice Wilson

Deputy Nurse Director; I am enthusiastic about what I do and motivated by seeing things improve. I really want people to be open with service users/patients and to talk with colleagues about lessons they have learned from good and bad experiences so others can reap the reward, do more of what works well and reduce the risk of repeating the same errors.

 

And me 🙂

What can you expect…….

 

Learning from Significant Adverse Events (SAEs)

PSG 7We are producing Learning Summaries from all our SAEs and we plan to share these with each Directorate but we need these to be meaningful, therefore we would love to hear from you about what learning you have taken from SAEs you have been involved with and how you would uses such a summary.   Our first one is ready to distribute and should reach you all very soon so watch this space!!!

 

 

 

Patient Safety Alerts

 

PSG 8We have tested a process of distributing a couple of patient safety alerts one about patients being discharged home with cannulas left in situ and one about poor communication around the location of patients with telemetry in situ.  The patient safety alerts will come from the patient safety group, are produced as a result of urgent issues arising from SAEs or themes and are designed to make you aware of a potential risk to harm. So far they have been well received; therefore we will continue to produce these. The next one is on route ………

 

 

Monthly News Letters

We plan to produce a monthly news letter on a “theme of the month“. The newsletters are informed from adverse events reported on DATIX.  Our first edition is ready to go and we have a plan for future ones therefore again watch this space……

Plan for the future

We recognise all the hard work from each directorate in relation to managing their significant adverse events therefore we have put together a timetable for each directorate to provide us with their updates to enable us to support adverse event management in a timely and effective manner.

PSG 9.1

Communication

The Patient Safety Group is contactable via

dumf-uhb.Adverse-Incidents@nhs.net 

Emma McGauchie is the Adverse Events Co-ordinator for NHS Dumfries and Galloway

The Paper Boat by Patricia Cantley

Pat 1I’ve been reading a lot recently about the word Frailty and its importance within Medicine for Older People. We see a lot of frail people and as geriatricians they are our core business both inside and outside the hospital.

Healthcare professionals have debated over the last few years how to define Frailty, and even how we might begin to measure it. It is no longer adequate simply to shrug and say “we know it when we see it”.

From a patient or relative’s point of view however, the word Frailty seems to be at best somewhat vague and at worst, derogatory and demotivating. When we ask patients how they feel about the word, whether in large surveys or on a one to one basis, they do not like it.

One strategy that I have found useful over the years, especially when talking to relatives of the patients under my care, is to paint a picture that they can relate to by using a simple analogy. I’m sure others have used similar techniques – indeed I learnt this one from a consultant colleague many years ago.

So when I am talking to a family member about their older relative, I sometimes liken their clinical situation to a fragile yet beautiful paper boat sailing round a pond of their choice.

A while back I used this particular strategy for a very elderly man under our care who was going through a very complex and unstable time. At one point, there seemed to be a lull in the medical winds that were buffeting his fragile frame and I sat down with his daughter to chat things through. She was desperately seeking reassurance, but also wanting honest facts about what to expect over the months to come.

She smiled as I described my image of a beautiful paper boat, brightly painted and currently sailing proudly in the sunshine on the still pond, giving pleasure to all around. I explained that the difficulty was in not knowing what weather was ahead, and the problems forecasting accurately. If the weather were to remain fair with barely a trace of wind, then there was no reason to think that the boat would go down and indeed it might sail on for quite a while. If, on the other hand, the wind got up, or worse, if it started to rain, that frail wee boat would go over quite quickly with little we could do to save it.

As younger and healthier individuals, we react more like little tug boats of wood and steel… we would simply bob up and down until the storm had passed. Though a big enough hurricane could be too much for us too…

The chat developed a bit more as we translated some of this into more medical language and formulated a plan over what would and wouldn’t be reasonable things to try, should that wee boat capsize over in a high wind. We agreed that we’d want to try as much as we could, maybe including intravenous therapy but that at the end, a call to the family rather than futile attempts at CPR would be the right strategy. I noted it all down, and his daughter undertook to update the rest of the family.

As is the way in modern medicine, our paths diverged and he was discharged from our service. I didn’t keep in touch, though I knew his daughter had my mobile that she could call if she wished.

Many months later, a text came through…

“Dearest Trisha, I am sending this sad message to you to let you know that last night the paper boat went down in a storm. It was all very sudden at the end, but we were well prepared, and for that we thank you.”

I called the patient’s daughter later that afternoon and we chatted about what had happened. I don’t think we used the word frail at any point in her father’s journey, but she knew what we meant, and I think it did help. It was also lovely to be able to talk afterwards and listen to how the last chapter of the story had unfolded. It is rare as hospital doctors that we get to do this kind of post bereavement support and for me, it was well worth while being home a little late (again) that evening.

Every doctor I’ve met has tales of when things go well, and we all have our share too of when they haven’t. We must never be complacent, and a strategy that works with one family may not work with another.

We need to learn a lot of facts as doctors, but there is also an important place for the use of stories in medicine. We can learn and teach what has worked for us, and consider how others might adopt and adapt similar approaches.

I had another text, more recently, from a previous trainee. Also a happy story, they wanted to tell me of a scenario in another hospital in another city, where they explained to a family the fragility of another paper boat. Intense medically focused discussions had failed to convey the precarious nature of the situation, but the visual image of a brightly painted origami boat had been something of a breakthrough. I was touched by the kindness of the younger doctor that they thought to feed back to their former teacher in this way.

I’m still not sure what the best way to define Frailty is, but I’ve tried a few ways of describing it in the clinical situation. I’d love to hear tips from other people, in particular from patients and relatives, about what has worked best for them.

Patricia Cantley works as a consultant physician in the Midlothian Hospital at Home Team, offering an alternative to hospital admission for frail and older patients. She also works in the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh and in the Community Hospital in Midlothian. She tweets under her married name of Elliott as @Trisha_the_doc

This blog originally appeared on the British Geriatrics Society blogsite on the 9th July 2018. Many thanks to Patricia for the permission to republish on dghealth.

Summer of Celebrations: Part 2 by the SPSP Team

Over the last few months we have seen a variety of blogs, newsletters and tea parties showcasing all the fantastic work that is going on around the region.  The Volunteer’s hosted their own Celebration Party, DGRI had its official Royal opening, we launched our ‘NHS at 70: what matters to you’ campaign and we had the very great pleasure of selecting the winners of our poster competition from an amazing selection of improvement projects.

This week’s blog features staff comments on SPSP at 10, our poster competition winners and how you can get involved by hosting your own tea party!

But first, it is time for us to start sharing the details of our big event in September…

SPSP Blog 3 1

SPSP Blog 3 3

 

 

 

 

SPSP Blog 3 8

SPSP Blog 3 9

 

Get up, Get dressed, Get moving by Amy Conley

Amy 1 hippocrates1-2x

Think about an older person, someone in their eighties – let’s say it’s your Granma…

Your Granma lives in her own house; she’s not quite so good on her feet anymore, but she gets about OK.  Stairs are difficult but she manages – and she manages to get up and dressed, make her breakfast and her tea, feed her cat, read the paper, get to Tesco in the car with you.

Then your Granma gets ill – she has say, a chest infection.  She is admitted to hospital.  You pack her bag – nightie, toothbrush, comb.  She is admitted to the ward – she is poorly, needs antibiotics and a drip for a few days. So, on goes the nightie and your Granma is in bed; that’s what you do in hospital – you are poorly and tired and you need to rest in bed.

Your Granma is in bed in her single room.  She needs the toilet but doesn’t think she should get up by herself – she is a patient in a nightie so needs help.  But she can’t see very well or hear very well and can’t find her glasses or hearing aids.  She can’t find the buzzer to buzz the nurses and she can’t hear when they are near.   She thinks maybe she could get herself to the toilet, but she can’t see her walking sticks and is scared she will fall. 

Time passes.  Your Granma is incontinent in the bed.  She is embarrassed and frightened – what will the nurses think?

Now she is scared to drink and eat because she doesn’t want to need the toilet and be incontinent again.  And she doesn’t want to bother anyone.  The physio comes to see her, tries to get her up.  But she is still embarrassed and frightened.  She has no clothes to wear.  And she has only those foam slippers she got from the nurse.  So it’s best just to stay in bed.

Your Granma stays in bed for longer and longer.  There is nothing to do.  There is a TV but she can’t see it or hear it without her glasses and hearing aids.   She is getting mixed up now; she can’t remember when she came here or why or what day it is.  She thinks she can see cats in the corner of her room.  She still won’t eat, so she has no strength and feels weak. She doesn’t want to get up.  Her bottom and back hurt.  Her leg has swollen up – they said it is a blood clot.

The physios keep coming back.  They try to get her up; two of them struggle to get her to stand.  She is stuck in bed. 

Your Granma’s chest infection has been treated and she has no acute medical illness, but now she is immobile, confused, dehydrated, incontinent, her muscles are weak and she cannot walk anymore, or get herself washed or dressed. 

Your Granma is not going to manage at home anymore; she has to go to a care home.

 

GET UP, GET DRESSED, GET MOVING

At DGRI, we are launching our campaign on Monday 23rd July– the aim is help our patients maintain their function, mobility and independence while in hospital, and for them to return home as soon as possible, as able as possible.

 

WHY HAVE THIS CAMPAIGN?

  • Most patients in hospital are over 65
  • In hospital, older people spend up to 83% of their time in bed
  • 65% of people’s functional ability declines during admission
  • 60% immobile older patients in hospital have no medical reason to stay in bed
  • If you are over 80, 10 days in hospital ages muscles by 10 years
  • 1 week of bed rest equates to 10% muscle loss
  • These changes are “deconditioning” –  “reconditioning” takes twice as long

Amy 5 pjsketch1Amy 7 sliipers sketch 2Amy 6 pjsketch2Amy 8 slippers sketch 4

WEARING YOUR PYJAMAS IN HOSPITAL

  • Affects your confidence and self-esteem
  • Changes how you interact with healthcare staff and other people
  • Is usually unnecessary no matter why you are in hospital
  • Doesn’t feel very dignified when you are trying to eat your dinner

 

STAYING IN BED IN YOUR PYJAMAS

  • Reduces muscle strength
  • Reduces confidence
  • Reduces function
  • Increases blood clots, delirium, pressure sores and infections
  • Leads to reduced appetite, low mood and anxiety
  • Reduces social interactions
  • Lowers pain thresholds
  • Can make blood pressure drop
  • Causes constipation and incontinence

Amy 4 patient in bed

WHAT CAN HEALTHCARE STAFF DO?

  • All of us can and should help patients get moving – nurses, doctors, AHPs, porters, domestic staff, pharmacists…
  • Ask the patients how they normally get about and what they normally do
  • Make sure patients can access buzzers, water, remote controls
  • Encourage patients to get dressed and sit up in the chair

 

WHAT CAN PATIENTS DO?

  • Tell us how you normally get about and get things done and what you need to help you
  • Try to do things that you do at home – wash and dress, eat and drink on your own if able
  • Sit up in your chair and for meals
  • Drink lots
  • If you can’t get out of bed, do little things – wiggle your toes, do a crossword – every little movement  helps

 

WHAT CAN VISITORS DO?

  • Tell us what you do at home
  • Bring in glasses, hearing aids and walking aids
  • Bring in comfortable day clothes and well fitting shoes
  • Encourage you to sit up in the chair and for meals
  • Take you for a walk
  • Bring in photos, books, puzzles, crosswords

Amy 3 nursewalking patient

THE BENEFITS

  • Speeds recovery
  • Reduces time in hospital
  • Encourages patient and carer involvement in healthcare and recovery
  • Helps to retain patients’ individuality and self-esteem
  • Helps patients to quickly return home, mobile and functional

 

If you or your family are worried that it is not safe for you to get up or you might do the wrong thing – ASK US!  We will tell you what is safe and OK for you!

#endpjparalysis

#goinghome

Amy 2 home

Amy Conley is a Consultant in Geriatric Medicine at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary

‘What I am told I forget…… by the Renal Team

…what I am shown, I remember.

              …what I do, I understand.’

Renal 1

Confucius was credited with many words of wisdom in his 72-years.  I couldn’t vouch for the authenticity of them all – but if he did utter these words he was indeed a man before his time.

The truth behind these words was apparent to me at our recent Kidney Care Planning Education day. The Kidney Care Planning Service has undergone a bit of a re-incarnation in the last couple of years. Formerly known as the Pre-dialysis service, it is simply the care of patients with an eGFR of less than 20mls/min, as they are more likely to progress to end stage kidney failure and need to plan for such an eventuality. However, the term ‘pre-dialysis’ implies that these people are all heading towards dialysis – when in fact many will choose an alternative path. The younger fitter patients should be hoping to get a pre-emptive kidney transplant from a relative or friend, while some of our elderly, frailer patients may well not benefit from dialysis at all and will survive just as long on conservative (nondialytic) care. So when Tanya Harkness took up the mantle of lead Nurse for the pre-dialysis service, she quite rightly felt a new name was required. Many renal units use the term Low Clearance Clinics, but a straw poll of non-renal staff suggested this was more reminiscent of a rehabilitation clinic for inattentive bus drivers… So, after much discussion amongst the renal team, the more accurately named Kidney Care Planning (KCP) service was born.

The aim of the service remains unchanged and while we do take bloods and treat symptoms, easily 80% of what we do is talk. More specifically we provide as much Renal 2information as we can to help every person decide which treatment option is going to suit them best. We do this with clinic visits and home visits. We provide information leaflets, website addresses and even YouTube videos – all with the aim of imparting information. Yet still we are sometimes asked a question that blindsides us – that either leaves us thinking ‘How did you not know that from all the conversations we have had?’  or ‘Crikey- that’s a good question that I have no idea how to answer!’ Because at the end of the day none of us handing out this information have ever experienced what they are going through – the actual treatments, the fear and anxiety, the dread of what their lives will become or the understandable desire to block it all out and pretend it’s not happening.

Which brings me back to Confucius! The subject of teaching is vast, with as many different approaches as there are pizza toppings. Yet 500 years BC, Confucius nailed it with this simple truth – when we actually do something, we come to understand it. So who better to teach our patients, than other patients who have been in the same boat.

We have held education days in the past, usually in a hotel function room with talks given by members of staff. Tanya was keen to resurrect the concept, but made it quite clear from the outset that there was ‘No way on God’s earth’ I think was the phrase that she was ‘EVER’ standing up in front of a room full of people to give a power point presentation. (Why not, I have no idea as I am sure she would be excellent….but there we are!)

So a new format was devised between the whole community team – a less formal approach, like an open day, where patients could turn up and wander at will from room to room – talk to the team leads, watch demonstrations, see the equipment and most importantly meet other patients.

The date was chosen to coincide with a visit from Ewen Maclean, Kidney Care UK Patient Support and Advocacy Office, Scotland. Ewen, himself a renal patient, is a mine of information about the support available to kidney patients, grants and how to apply for them and the political landscape that shapes kidney care in the UK.

We no longer had need of a hotel function suite – if there is one thing we are not short of at Mountainhall it’s space! (And the parking is pretty easy too – sorry!!) So, we sent a personal invitation to all our KCP patients, laid on refreshments and opened up the old pre-assessment unit for the day.

Renal 3The Renal Community Team (Left to right): Fiona Gardiner (Renal Dietitian), Robert McLemon (Transplant) Ian Mottram (Haemodialysis – both home and in-centre), Wendy Brown (Peritoneal Dialysis) Margaret McDonald (Clinic Health Care Assistant & Phlebotomist), Linda Stiff (Vascular Access), & Tanya Harkness (Kidney care planning).

Renal 4As well as written information everyone had something practical for patients who attended and the responses we had were truly illuminating. Ian had a haemodialysis machine with all the lines and bucket of dialysis fluid set up and received the comment ‘Oh, I didn’t realise it would be so small-I assumed it’d be really big.’ And why not –historically dialysis machines took up a whole room, which must be a really intimidating thought if you are going to be hooked up to one- but it has NEVER occurred to me to comment on the size of a dialysis machine in my many dialysis related conversations.

Renal 5Robert had asked 3 transplant patients, with more than 50-years of experience between them to attend. I am not sure if any of them showed their scars where the transplant was placed but they had experienced all the ups and downs of transplantation and immunosuppressants so there was no glossing over the bad bits.

Renal 6Linda was showing patients how to feel  their fistula and what to listen for – explaining how the noise it makes can change if a stenosis is forming – and she was able to give those with a fistula their own stethoscope to involve them in their own fistula care.

Renal 7Our renal dietitian was also on hand to give practical advice on managing fluid balance, as well as providing visual aids on potassium, phosphate and salt restrictions-something that renal patients universally struggle with!

Renal 8One of the biggest successes of the day came from Wendy who had persuaded one of her Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) patients & their families to come and chat so they finally actually knew what the PD catheter looked like when it was inserted and could see for themselves how an exchange worked. But more importantly they could ask someone having the treatment what it felt like, how it impacted on their lives, whether it interfered with their sleep, whether it actually helped! One of our patients who had been set on coming to the hospital for haemodialysis when his time comes, has now changed his mind. We have been sure for many reasons that he would be best suited to PD, but fear was driving his decision. One hour watching a gentleman of his own age performing an exchange and listening to his stories of how life continues almost as normal around PD, has achieved what 5-years of reassurance from us could not…

The feedback Tanya received was overwhelmingly positive, but patients are generally nice, so it is the more subtle signs that have persuaded us this is the right approach. The questions and comments patients have since made in clinic prove that they have valued and retained some of the information they learnt that day. One patient commented how reassuring it was to see dialysis patients who looked well and still lived a normal life. And I hope through this some of the fear for the future has abated.

I expect in the future we will still be blindsided by hitherto unasked questions, but it is not only the patients who are learning, as I finish with yet another Confucius quote:

‘He who knows all the answers, has not been asked all the questions!’

We would like to express our sincere gratitude for all the patients and families who came that day, especially for those who came to share their experiences with patients in the early stages of their kidney care planning journey. We are also grateful for the patients who gave their consent for us to take photographs and use them in this blog.  We hope to make “Kidney Care Planning Education day” an annual event from now on.

 

Other useful renal websites:

Patient focussed resources:

Kidney Patients UK / The National Kidney Federation, the largest kidney patient charity in the UK, run by kidney patients for kidney patients, website provides lots of useful information.

Kidney Care UK – formerly the British kidney patient association, very helpful brochures available online.

Think Kidneys – NHS England’s campaign to raise awareness of the importance of kidney disease. Lots of useful resources can be accessed with just a few clicks from this page.

Clinician focussed resources:

Renal Fellow Network – A USA based website with worldwide contributions distilling vast amounts of renal knowledge into bitesized articles, a great resource to start learning about renal medicine.

UKidney – online education on Nephrology, hypertension and kidney transplant.

#NephJC is a fortnightly Twitter-based Nephrology Journal club with visual abstracts, free access to the articles provided by major journals and regularly includes participation by the authors and other worldwide experts in the field.

 

This blog was written by Dr Alison Almond, Associate Specialist in Nephrology, with contribution from rest of the Renal Team, NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

 

A Yellow Wood by Gill Stanyard

Gill St 1

The 1st June 2018 was my  last day as a  Non-Executive Director for NHS Dumfries and Galloway.  After four years of a potential eight year appointment from Scottish Government, I decided to  leave. I felt I had reached a good and fulfilling end and to stay on for another four year term would have been signing up to endure.  I made a decision I wanted to enjoy. So, I felt happy with my decision to end my time, made when swimming in a shimmering blue sea one early morning, whilst in Greece.

I made a decision. ‘Decision.’ The Latin origin of this word  literally means, “to cut off.” Making a decision is about “cutting off” choices – cutting you off from some other course of action. Now that may sound a little severe and limiting, it’s not. It is liberating. Decisions, they take us onto the next stepping stone, sometimes called  ‘The End’  – two words which tell us a story is over.

Gill St 2

My friend made the final and shocking decision to end his life at the weekend. A fact I am still struggling to comprehend. Our last communication was a fortnight ago, with me texting him about all the different gins (24 to be exact) that were on the menu at my leaving ‘do.’  He texted me back with a  joke about Rhubarb gin. Then nothing. I didn’t think too much of it, life gets in the way. And then I received ‘The News.’  Yet I have forgotten a couple of times since then, and have gone to text him. Then, with a strange physical ‘flipflop’ stomach feeling,  I have remembered ‘The End,’ which is accompanied by much hurt and sorrow and  strangely, lines from one of my favourite poem’s. – ‘ The Road Not Taken.’ by Robert Frost:

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Gill St 3

 A single decision can transform a life. I always assumed Frost wrote this poem about himself, yet I recently read Hollis’s  biography of Welsh poet Edward Thomas, and discovered that Frost and Thomas were ‘besties.’  Frost had written the lines as a joke about Thomas’s depression induced indecision, which showed up on their long ‘walk and talk’ days together, with Thomas never being able to decide whether to take the path on the right or the left. When Frost sent the poem to Thomas, Thomas initially failed to realize that the poem was (mockingly) about him. Instead, he believed it was a serious reflection on the need for decisive action. At the age of 36, after much wrestling, Thomas felt compelled to enlist as a soldier in the Great War.

Gill St 4

 

He wrote of his decision to his friend Robert Frost  “Last week I had screwed myself up to the point of believing I should come out to America & lecture if anyone wanted me to. But I have altered my mind. I am going to enlist on Wednesday if the doctor will pass me.”  On the first day of the battle at Arras, Easter Monday, 9 April 1917, Thomas was killed by a shell blast.  His poem ‘Adlestrop’ was published in the New Statesman three weeks after his death and has since become a classical favourite of British poetry.

 

Adlestrop

Yes, I remember Adlestrop —

The name, because one afternoon

Of heat the express-train drew up there

Unwontedly. It was late June.

 

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.

No one left and no one came

On the bare platform. What I saw

Was Adlestrop — only the name

 

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,

And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,

No whit less still and lonely fair

Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

 

And for that minute a blackbird sang

Close by, and round him, mistier,

Farther and farther, all the birds

Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire

Life sometimes makes decisions for us. I don’t mean to get all Dead Poet’s Society here, yet I think T.S Eliot had something when he wrote “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” (Four Quarters) We get ill and have to take time to rest and get well, and sometimes we don’t always recover, we have accidents,  we don’t get chosen for that job or by that person and we lose people and animals we love and care for.

Where possible, make a decision and choose your ending and make a new beginning, whether it be the end of an unhappy relationship and the start of a happier one with yourself,  saying No to working for extra hours, when you could be saying Yes to spending more time with your family, or your dog or your garden, standing up to a bully and choosing to start being assertive and courageous, speaking out against something which you see is wrong and thus ending corruption or collusion, stopping trying to do everything by yourself and start asking for help -(getting a mentor through NES really helped me with this)  and putting a stop to being taken for granted and drawing new boundaries that put your needs first.

Gill St 5

I have taken a Non-Executive decision to be more accountable to myself in my life, to spend more time outside, to stop watching tv and read more poetry,  to save up to live in a place where I can have two donkeys, chickens and  another rescue dog and to track down some Rhubarb gin.

Gill St 6

Sorry if I did not see you to say Goodbye. I wish you well in your decision making and hope that your sigh is a happy and fulfilled one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I

What Matters to You: NHS at 70 by Kimberley McCole

WMTY 1

As part of the ‘Summer of Celebrations’, we launched our campaign around ‘What Matters to You: NHS at 70’ on June 6th.  Looking back of the past 70 years and into the future at the next 70 years how does this impact on what matters to you now?

Some thoughts we captured at a recent SPSP meeting:

WMTY 2

We are looking for staff to collect their own thoughts and the thoughts of our service users using ‘leaves’ that will be used to build our ‘Experience Trees’.

For further information, or to request an ‘Experience Tree’ pack to use in your department, please contact: dumf-uhb.patientsafety@nhs.net

Experience trees will be featured in our September event.

Kimberley McCole is a Project Officer with the Patient Safety and Improvement Team at NHS Dumfries and Galloway

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What matters to you leaf final v2