This time last year I arrived for a night shift to be met by my manager who wanted to send me to Glasgow on a course. To be honest I didn’t even hear what the course was going to be about, all I heard was a night away in a hotel, on my own, away from my lovely (but always up before the crack of dawn) boys!!! Well the answer was a loud “YES” from me. However, what I didn’t appreciate on that night was how involved I was about to get or how passionate I was about to feel around the subject of Person Centred Care.
My journey started in 2001 when I qualified as a Midwife and came to work in Dumfries and have been here ever since. In 2004 after working in the neonatal unit for 2 years I gained a further qualification to become a Neonatal Midwife. I did not find university easy and through both times I will openly admit I have struggled. The only answer I have come up with is that I am a people person, definitely not academic and never will be. So, I thought people at the centre of health and care as the perfect subject for me but I will now go onto tell you how there have been times recently when I have thought otherwise and the reasons why I will continue.
I have now attended 2 out of the 3 collaborative sessions at the SECC in Glasgow with the next one happening at the end of May. There have been moments of laughter during these sessions and moments of inconsolable crying (not sure if that was just me as I was hiding behind my tissue) but overall the principle message is one that we are all potential patients and we should treat everyone the way we would want to be treated. Yes, I know this is one of the oldest cliché in the book but I think taking time to reflect on this will make us all better carers. Hearing first-hand accounts of poor care during what is the hardest of times is not easy but to know that the person carrying out this mistreatment is working in the caring profession is disgusting and unforgivable. So the question has to be what can we all do to make our services better? I have heard lots of buzz words/phrases like “listen to hear not to reply” and “nothing about me without me” and for once they actually make sense to me.
I feel the message is very clear, the first step to improvement is to ask our patients and their families what it is that they want and stop assuming that we always know better. This is where I started. My manager gave me a copy of an email she had been sent with an attachment called my neonatal passport. I began to adapt it to fit in with where I work then I can only describe it as my obsession began. I have asked parents, friends, colleagues, really anyone who will listen to read and comment on every version I have made (and there have been many!!). The title has gone from “My Neonatal Passport” to “My Neonatal Journey” and changes to the content have been carried out due to my most recent small test of change and I am now ready to try out the next test.
The booklet is designed to give parents a record of their stay in NNU. The information they need to gain confidence and knowledge to care for their baby while in NNU and on discharge. It will replace the parents’ information folder we have at the moment which I am told very few parents read. Each day the nurse/midwife is allocated a baby to look after, time will be taken to go over the pages designed to be signed by staff and parents. My hope is that by doing this any issues that arise can be dealt with and communication will be encouraged. Something that comes up time and again in complaints is lack of consistency in information given I believe that through time we can use the booklet as a reference point so we are all saying the same thing.
There have been times since I took on this project that I have felt it is too big a mountain to climb, when a small test of change highlights the booklets failings or I have realised that I am not being successful in communicating my vision to my colleagues it has been hard. I want more than anything for this to be a success although I have no doubt that I am still a long way from the finished product.
Before I started this project I had never heard of a “pdsa” or a “driver diagram” and to be honest I am still struggling at times. I know what I want to achieve but making it clear on paper is so difficult. I have spent so many hours working on “My Journey” that I can’t tell whether or not it makes sense so I rely on my colleagues in the neonatal unit. Thankfully I am lucky that I know they are behind me and will put up with my endless pleas for it to be read and re-read.
I am now looking forward to the next learning session in May, now, not only for the night away and a lie in past 6am but to hear examples of what others are doing around Scotland. Maybe even come away with inspiration for my next obsession, sorry meant project!!!
Gillian Moffat is a Neonatal Midwife at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary