Love Wins by Euan McLeod

Euan M 1Having returned to clinical practice after a number of years away from the NHS (not saying what number) but nonetheless a significant period I attended the corporate inductions week to prepare me for my role in the organisation.

I had thought that much would have changed but although there were a lot of things different it seemed to me that the very essence of what we did as nurses, and indeed as anyone, employed in the NHS had not changed significantly in that we were all part of an organisation there to provide help and support to those in their time of need,

One thing that had developed was the formation of a set of values. The NHS Dumfries and Galloway CORE values

You may recall that the workshop to develop the CORE values was in response to the publication of the Francis enquiry into the Mid Staffs hospital, and that the aim like most health boards up and down the country was to try and create something that would help deliver higher standards of care and stop situations like Mid Staffs happening again.

What was it that went wrong? Did they not love (care/respect) the people they were looking after? Did nobody love their work enough to want to do things well? Were peoples regard for each other such that they became indifferent to their needs?

Love may apply to various kinds of regard towards other people or objects, and this aspect seemed to reflect what had happened at Mid Staffs, a lack of respect or due regard for the people entrusted to their care.

Love – it’s not a word we use often in healthcare but perhaps it’s central and underpins a lot of the other words or values we use to describe how we should be or act in the pursuit of caring for others.  In that sense I wanted to think about that word LOVE and what it might mean in the context of our main activity as deliverers of healthcare.

The title sat in my notes and in my mind for some weeks, I read the board paper on the development of the CORE values and wondered if it might mention love anywhere. Lots of care, compassion, empathy respect, dignity, etc in the body of the document, and hey right at the back in the summary of responses on positive experiences / feelings, there it was the word LOVE-maybe only 1 person had mentioned it but there it was.

Now all this talk of love may be getting some of you kinda twitched as if this was all some soppy, half baked romantic drivel, the kinda thing that people don’t talk openly about, but think just for a moment about how often you might use the word in the context of things, objects and places and not people

What do you mean when you say oh I just love going on holiday to France, Spain, The Bahamas etc or I just love Jaguar cars, or some designer shoes or handbags.

If someone asked you if you loved your job what would you say-Do you love making a difference to people’s lives?

I don’t think anyone would say no to that

Euan M 2

I looked up the Francis report and here’s what it said was the MAIN message

The Francis report is a powerful reminder that we need a renewed focus on hearing and understanding what patients are saying Ruth Thorlby, Senior Fellow, Nuffield Trust

From <>

Hearing and understanding what patients say -no problem there then easy and straightforward

The importance of that hearing and understanding aspect was highlighted in the recently published kings fund report

“Finally, participants noted that a focus on improving patient outcomes and experience was a way to further engage staff in improvement activities:

You have to build that coalition of people who want to make a difference and who want to change and at the centre of it all keep the focus absolutely on patients and never have a conversation that doesn’t involve a patient, because if you do you’re in the wrong place because that’s the only currency, the language, that staff understand. (NHS provider chief executive)”

How can we firstly HEAR what patients say and secondly how can we UNDERSTAND what they are telling us.

Into my in box comes an email from Gaping Void- Everbody’s a patient because evervbody’s a person

Here’s a link if you want to check further

Gaping void exist to develop the use of culture and art in healthcare settings and the topic that caught my eye was entitled “Everybody’s a patient because everybody’s a person”

There are two underlying truths in patient care:

All patients are, foremost, humans, and one day, we will all be patients.

When designing healthcare experiences, from waiting rooms to waiting times, we have to remember that we’re building for humans — people in pain, people grieving, and people suffering who need to feel loved.

We have to create the experiences that we, as patients, would want to go through. Because, one day, we will.

From <>

If we are able to love people we care for and hold them in a position of high regard then we will be able to hear what they say and perhaps understand, in turn Love may win over the tensions, frustrations and myriad difficulties that are part of delivering health care  and we can be part of creating experiences that are for  people knowing that perhaps one day we may be the patient

Euan M 3

Euan McLeod is a Mental Health Staff Nurse for NHS Dumfries and Galloway

8 thoughts on “Love Wins by Euan McLeod

  1. I LOVED your blog Ewan. Your connection between Love and our CORE values has really struck a cord with me, and helps to humanise and ground the CORE values in an emotion we can all relate to I think. Many have written before that ‘the soft stuff is the hard stuff’ (google it for references) and I agree – its our culture, behaviours and attitudes that will make the difference for us – both as staff, and as prospective patients and carers of others – going forward, and that’s my focus for 2018. WE are the culture, and its our behaviours and attitudes, as a big team of 4,500, that drive the experiences our patients have every day in our care. The extraordinary efforts that everyone has put in over the last few weeks to maintain services in the face of very challenging winter pressures and our hospital migration is evidence enough for me that as a staff team we all really do LOVE what we do (even though on some days its very hard), so I want to say thanks to everyone for having done your bit over the last while – your amazing!

  2. The quotes you mentioned in particular everybody’s a patient because everybody’s a person takes me back to my training in Dumfries. There was a common theme from tutors and many of my mentors, treat each patient as you would love me someone to treat your parents, grandparents or yourself. So throughout my work I have kept that tenet. I also remember as a student comforting a mother who was in a panic that she had potentially killed her son by signing his consent for a routine operation. I spent some time with her, explaining what would be happening and how long she might expect to wait. In giving her the time, listening to her concerns and answering her questions I held in my heart the hope that someday if any of my family or me needed the time and reassurance that a nurse would do the same.
    25 years since I left the School of Nursing and started my first permanent post. I’ve had up and down days like everyone but overall I love my job and feel privileged to be there when someone needs the time and the love to feel the dignity in their life.

  3. Maybe if I didn’t have so much paperwork to do and tick boxes to fill in I could release more of my time to do the job I loved doing, but there are so many hoops to jump through now it’s eating away at patient time . More staff would also help releive the pressures to give nurses back the time the use to have with patients to show they cared . If no one fights to release time because of the fear of being sued .(Thus more paperwork ) Then we won’t know what feeling cared for is,by the time we get there . Which may come sooner than we think when I see the rate and extra shifts my colleagues are working at present . This is because they do care and don’t want to let patients or their teams down .

  4. Nice one Ewan. Still think a lot of staff will struggle with calling it “love” but the themes are spot on nonetheless.

    The improvement idea strikes a cord with me after I did a little bit of research exploring the topic. Staff were highly motivated to improve their service and got enthusiastic (fell in love??) all over again when they got a chance to take on a project they thought would make things better for patients and carers. Managers were also keen as their staff remained motivated as well as learning about quality and services meeting related goals. It felt a win-win-win strategy. Maybe we need to step outside the day to day difficulties of providing healthcare to reflect and maintain our hopes and dreams (and love?).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it’s a brave move!

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