Having 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
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
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 https://www.gapingvoid.com/
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.
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 McLeod is a Mental Health Staff Nurse for NHS Dumfries and Galloway