How to make a good death by Justine McCuaig

My Mum died on June 6th 2017 at 11 45pm at home asleep beside my Father while he held her tight.

My overwhelming and lasting memory is of going up to offer Dad yet another cup of tea, (my family home by this time had become like a scene from Eastenders with endless tea becoming a cure all for our woes) and finding them both asleep in front of the telly, holding hands, as if it were any other night in their lives together. By this point, knowing mum was soon to leave us, I chose a whisky over tea while my sister drank Mum’s Tia Maria and we laughed at our naughtiness downstairs.

We had been caring for Mum for 4 months at home. She had been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis a few years before and her lungs progressively stiffened up despite her objections and indignation at the condition. Everything else was in perfect working order!

Mum was very pragmatic about her diagnosis and we often talked about its progression together with and without my Father. I asked her when her condition worsened if she thought my Dad had “got it” and understood that she had terminal disease and was not going to recover. The next day I visited and she said “yes he’s got it….I sat him down and told him that I wanted buried in the garden and listed who I didn’t bloody want coming to the funeral  so you don’t need to worry about that anymore!”

Although as a family we liked our privacy from the outside world, we were not particularly shy or private people at home and regularly discussed all manner of things and shared experiences. No topics were ever out of bounds for us and I had the privilege of being raised by tolerant humanitarians with a good sense of humour and a love of dialogue, music and life. We have always been able to talk about the big things with ease, disease, mental illness, romantic woes, religion and politics but struggled with the smaller things and general displays of affection. We loved truly and where truly loved but it was unspoken generally and wrapped up with rather woolly “oh you knows”

Cuddling was not a regular thing either (for no good reason other than we didn’t really do it much) This physical distance completely disappeared when I began to nurse my Mum and provide her with regular personal care. I was more unsure about how I would feel about this than how she would feel about it even though as a nurse I was simply using the tools of my trade.  To my delight caring for Mum (and Dad) was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had.  The physical closeness and honesty was liberating for us both. We had so many laughs (normally about things we really shouldn’t laugh about!) Gift giving changed and although a commode wasn’t everyone’s idea of a great birthday present, my Mum loved it, especially with the balloon attached.

To be able to wash my Mum, do her hair, paint her nails all the time chatting about this and that with up to 5 grandchildren lying alongside her at “Granddads side “ was a unique shared experience which we all enjoyed up to the last week of her life. Grandchildren came and went as it suited them without obligation and new routines developed for us all which were played out wholly to our tune. Nail painting changed to pressure care and symptom control but there were no restrictions on visiting, no alien environment or hospital smells, no distance to travel, no reduction in privacy or dignity.

Just home – where the heart is, and where sitting on the bed is actively encouraged!

Of course we couldn’t do this without support. It was great that I was able to use my nurse’s tool box to be my family’s advocate, to explain things lost in translation and to explore mums options. However it was the cohesiveness of our systems, the excellent communication between teams and professionals actively hearing what the patient aspired to and facilitating those aspirations that really worked for my family and resulted in such a good death for my Mother

NHS Dumfries and Galloway has the most outstanding staff members across all disciplines. With thier input we can successfully choose our own package of care and be fully supported in that choice. Anticipatory care planning and social care integration have the potential to really transform the patient journey and is not something to be afraid of but rather to embrace.

 However all of these services need to be heavily invested in to meet the expected demand from   an aging population. Without continued investment and service development, NHS Dumfries and Galloway will not be able to fulfil this ambition and enjoy the success that my family had.

Mum was admitted to DGRI 3 months before she died as an emergency admission and was discharged from ward 7 with a complete package of palliative care and specialist community respiratory support within 32 hours.  All of her drugs and letters were ready at our agreed   discharge time, the domiciliary oxygen was arranged and delivered and referrals completed for the McMillan, Marie Curie Nursing services and Community Respiratory Specialist Care.  Her DNR was signed and she waved it under the nose of anyone who was even vaguely interested in reading it. It remained pride of place on the bedside dresser as it was very important to her that her intentions were known. Everything my Mum did was delivered with humour and even this got a comedy slant!

The Kirkcudbright District Nurses introduced themselves and ensured that their door was kept fully open for when we needed their help and support. They responded promptly to any requests and where always available at the end of the phone to discuss Mums needs as they arose. Our Specialist Respiratory Nurse visited regularly.  When Mum developed a chest infection he promptly liaised with the consultant from our dining room relaying Mums reluctance to be admitted but advocating   the need for her to receive appropriate treatment which could prevent her condition worsening. Although her condition was terminal   there were still things that could be done to minimise her symptoms and prolong the length of her wellbeing. Mum agreed that if things got rapidly worse she would potentially consider IV therapy in hospital but would initially hedge her bets with tablets, lots of tea and nebulisers. She started her antibiotics orally that afternoon and recovered and remained well   long enough to see her beloved swallows   return   from Africa to nest in the garage, enjoy the spring flowers from the garden and support the children through their exams.

The Occupational Therapist ensured Mum had all of the equipment she needed when she needed it. If a piece of kit was ordered it was generally   installed within 24 hours. The Equipment Delivery Staff ensured that we knew exactly how to use it after they had installed it and answered all questions fully and in a voice loud enough for my deaf Dad to hear! They ensured he knew who to contact in the event of any problems. Mum had everything she needed, a bath chair, a stair lift, a stand aid, a pressure bed.  Visiting relatives from the Deep South stood with mouths wide open in disbelief at the care and support my family were receiving and began to seriously consider relocation. After Mums death the equipment was collected promptly but respectfully and was almost symbolic of starting life without her.

We did need the District Nurse’s help more regularly in the days running up to her death and because they had developed a slow growing respectful relationship with my family they were welcomed in like old friends.  They encouraged me to be Justine the daughter rather than Justine the nurse which was invaluable advice. They looked after us all, and talked us through every stage or change in Mum’s condition. Most importantly Mum thought they were great and that is, of course because, they were.  She was so interested in people and life and living that she became just as invested in how they were doing as they were in her. This was especially true of the student who approached and completed her finals during mums care. She told Mum when she   successfully passed as she knew it was important to her to know despite Mums condition rendering her uncommunicative at that point.

However we all knew she was dead chuffed!

Mum received reflexology   and head and hand massage in her bedroom as part of her palliative care package which was a new experience for her and one she really appreciated. What she enjoyed as much as   the treatment was her was that she had another person to communicate with and to learn from. She loved engaging with people more than anything. It gave us all something to talk about too. Even then life remained interesting with new experiences to share.

When Mums condition deteriorated to the point of suffering the District Nurses and GP promptly began her syringe driver to minimise her symptoms. I had discussed this often and in detail when Mum asked about “what next” and she fully understood that when her symptoms were controlled this way, she would be less awake and aware. She made a very informed choice when the GP prescribed it and her consent made me feel content with that course of action. She had had enough. Any other GP may have been phased when she asked if he was “putting her down,” especially when after administering an injection she said “No, no I’ve changed my mind” with a wicked twinkle in her eye!” However Mums GP knew her well and knew that with her humour she was trying to make a difficult job easier for him.

The Marie Curie nurses would phone regularly to see if we needed help over night which was very comforting. In the end the nurses attended the family home twice. Once to administer breakthrough medication in the wee small hours on the day the syringe driver was started (all the way from Dumfries – a round trip of 60 miles) and the following night at 10pm for their inaugural sleep over. Mum died shortly before midnight that night and Dad then made the long walk to the spare bedroom to ask our guest to confirm that she had gone.  Having her there at that time was invaluable and over the next few hours we all chatted and laughed and cried while we waited for a registered nurse to certify Mums death.  The care and support we all received that night was beyond excellent . Mum stayed the night, there was no rush for her to go anywhere and we all spent time with her before she left us mid morning. Downstairs my sister and I repeatedly heard my Dad’s footsteps as he came and went into their bedroom to check that she was really gone.

And she had gone,  Mrs T had left the building. Although we were (and are) devastated we have all reflected our relief that she had suffered so little in the end and that she died where she wanted surrounded by the people she loved . Knowing this has filled our sad hearts with a warm feeling knowing we did right by her and in time this will be a great comfort to us.

Janice M 1

Justine’s Mum and Dad on Crosby Beach 

Justine McCuaig is a Health protection Nurse Specialist at NHS Dumfries and Galloway

Outpatient Parenteral Antimicrobial Therapy (OPAT) – from Cellulitis to Meningioma by Audrey Morris and Shirley Buchan

OPAT as a service has been in use in many countries for the last 30 years. It is a method of delivering intra-venous antimicrobial therapy in an outpatient setting, as an alternative to remaining an inpatient.

Preparation of a typhoid shot in the medical clinicThe advantages of providing this service for the patient means that they have a reduced hospital stay and can return home and rehabilitate in their own environment. In certain cases the patient can continue to work whilst receiving IV antimicrobial therapy therefore causing them minimal disruption to their daily life. Psychologically the patient feels happier, eats better, sleeps better and is more likely to recover quicker in their own home.

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In DGRI the service started in 2012 under the “What if?” project. Its main aim at this point was treatment of non-complicated cellulitis leading to the reduction of patient admissions for short term IV antimicrobials. In the intervening years we have developed to become more involved with complicated infections requiring longer lengths of treatment i.e. up to 12 weeks of IV antimicrobials, but the patient is otherwise fit enough return home.

 
From January 2016 to the end of March 2017 we have released 1419 beds, an average of 3.2 per day. We have treated patients with Cellulitis, Osteomyelitis, Infected Joint Replacements, ESBL, UTI’s, Pseudomonas, Osteoradionecrosis, Lyme disease, Endocarditis, Discitis, Peripheral Vascular Disease, Actinomycosis, SAB, Urosepsis, E-Coli ESBL and Meningioma.

 

Why do we need OPAT?

 
In December 2015 a 30 year old man, who we will call John, was referred to us. He is a high functioning gentleman with Spina bifida who regularly competes in Shot Putt events, all over the World. He had been admitted 6 weeks previously with an infection of his hip. He was clinically improving and ready for home. His family were also keen for his discharge. On discharge John was keen to return to weekly training but due the nature of his infection this had to be put on hold. He attended the clinic daily for 12 weeks either at Dumfries or nearer his home at Castle Douglas Community Hospital, even attending on Christmas day. John had a Hickman line in-site and he decided that in order to assist us he would dress according to which lumen we were using, red top red lumen white top white lumen. He made a good recovery and was discharged from us a year ago. John still phones us now and again and had informed us he is back to full fitness, competing again and even throwing further than before. His one regret he told us, was that due to illness he was not selected for last year’s Paralympics but he is working hard to go the next event in 2020.
So why do we need OPAT? To give people like John an effective patient-focused service as good as inpatient care in an out-patient environment. Our aim is to provide patient centred care nearer to home. In some cases we train the patient or their relative/carer to administer IV antimicrobials in their own home, leading to increased independence and putting the patient at the centre of their own care.

 
Main aims of OPAT.

 
Clinical
To provide a high quality efficient clinical service using robust pathways, guidelines and protocols.
Reduce inpatient time and therefore reduce the risk of hospital acquired infections.
Develop the service to meet the changing demands on an overstretched service. With the opening of the new hospital imminent and the call for care nearer to home OPAT can help reduce demands on beds.
Patient.
image3Improved quality of life for patients. They eat better, sleep better and generally feel better in the own home environment.
Increase patient involvement in delivery of care, continuity of care and communication.
Provide ongoing support at home and utilise a pathway for re-admission if required.
Organisational.
Reduce the length of inpatient stays therefore utilising acute beds more efficiently.
Structured pathway from referral to discharge.
Staff development.

Patient journey from Inpatient to OPAT patient.

 
We aim to make the transition from inpatient to OPAT patient as quick and painless as possible but have to follow guidelines. Once a patient has been identified by their Consultant as a potential OPAT patient the first step is to complete an SBAR referral form (In Beacon use ‘search for document’ option). On receipt of this we visit the patient to assess them and their needs for OPAT. There are certain criteria which must be met but these are listed on our SBAR referral form and should be considered prior to referral.
The patient is then seen by our Consultant and the OPAT nurse team. If they are suitable and want to become an OPAT patient then the discharge process can begin.
So in summary OPAT provides patient centred care led by a small dedicated team. It clearly reduces the length of inpatient stays, which can be from 2 days to 12 weeks. Patients are very much involved in the method of delivery of their care, they can opt to be trained to do it themselves at home or we try to deliver care as near to their home as possible. We work around their commitments e.g. an elderly patient who has carers in the morning can get a later appointment or in the case of the patient who continues to work we can see them early in the morning to allow then to get to work. Patients feel better at home, they sleep better, eat better and psychologically feel better. They are more in control of their treatment and have continuity of care.

In the words of one of our patients we “made a bad situation better”.

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Audrey Morris & Shirley Buchan are Clinical Nurse Specialists in the OPAT team.

The Pneumonia in Bed 5 by Sian Finlay

Although it is sometimes easy to forget it amongst the busyness of front line clinical duties, I am a person.  I suspect many of you are too.  Occasionally I am unwell, but I consistently find that I still remain a person during this period – I have never yet become a disease!  So why is it that when patients come into our care, we so often default to calling them by their diagnosis instead of their name?  Go onto any ward and I guarantee it will not be long before you hear someone described as ‘The Chest Pain’ or ‘The Pneumonia’.  Many handovers will include phrases such as ‘He’s a UTI’.

No, he isn’t! He’s a PERSON who has a UTI!

A common (and potentially even worse) variant of this is the ‘bed number’ name, exemplified by ‘Bed 3 needs the commode!’  Sometimes attempts are made to justify this practice with the excuse that it protects confidentiality, but let’s be honest here.  The truth is that it simply demands more mental effort to remember the patient’s name and we are taking a short cut.  All very understandable in a busy environment, and I really don’t blame anyone.  You might think it is just semantics anyway – what does it matter if we call someone ‘The GI bleeder’?  Well I argue that it does matter.   More than you think.  These patients are people, no less complex and emotional and fragile than you or me.  By depersonalising them, we are subtly starting down a path which allows us to forget this; which allows us to view them as tasks in our day rather than the individuals they are.  If you are unconvinced, try this little exercise; read these 2 sentences and see if they elicit the same emotional response in you:

Bed 5 is agitated.

Tommy is agitated.

Would you agree that the second sentence immediately makes us feel more empathy and compassion towards its subject?

Many people will be aware of the late Kate Granger, the inspirational doctor who responded to her diagnosis of terminal cancer by establishing the ‘Hello, my name is..’ campaign.  Sadly Kate died last year, but her campaign lives on and has touched many of us in the healthcare profession.  But Kate’s work didn’t begin and end with wearing a smiley badge with our name on it; it is in essence about remembering the humanity of our patients and treating them as fellow human beings.  And I can only imagine Kate’s fiery reaction if she ever overheard herself being referred to as ‘Bed 5’!!

But we are all under pressure.  What if we genuinely can’t remember the patient’s name and are just trying to communicate information quickly?  Surely that doesn’t make us uncaring?  Of course it doesn’t, but in times of acute amnesia, we could at least say ‘the man with pneumonia’ rather than ‘the pneumonia’.  And that should only be a holding measure until we can remember his actual name – surely essential for safe communication anyway!

I hope I have convinced you that words do matter.  The phrases we use set the whole tone for the level of kindness and empathy we expect in our clinical areas.  So if any of this resonates with you, I hope you will lead by example.  Look at your patients and remember they have hopes and fears and histories and personalities…and almost always names!!

Sian Finlay (aka ‘The Migraine on ward 7’) Acute Physician and Clinical Director for Medicine at NHS Dumfries and Galloway

 

 

“Going that extra mile” by Sharon Shaw

Patient Centred Care

Being caring and compassionate is an unique talent and sometimes sadly often gets forgotten about and falls by the wayside. We are all human beings and sometimes we all need to take a step back and grasp how valuable our lives are and that of loved ones.

I want to share my story. This is the first time I have written a blog, so please be “patient” with me.

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In November 2015 I started my new job in clinical education. I was excited and yet in a way I wanted to prove to myself and others how valuable education is in this forever changing healthcare environment.

Approximately 3 weeks into my new role, the Respiratory Team contacted me concerning a patient with a complex condition. It was a 59 year old male who had severe emphysema and required an Under Water Sealed Drain (UWSD) to try and reinflate his left lung. The damage was so severe it became evident that the UWSD could not be removed or his lung would continually, spontaneously collapse.

“IT WAS HIS LIFE LINE”.

I walked into the side room in Ward 12 to introduce myself. With hos blue eyes he gazed up at me looking slightly anxious. Giving him a good firm handshake, I smiled and said

“Hello John, my name is Sharon”

I’m a great believer in “non-verbals” as it delivers communication and initially builds upon a trusting relationship. And indeed it did as from then on it had a huge impact.

As my father always said…

“Sharon a good solid handshake goes a long way”.

John was palliative. He had not long retired and to get devastating news about his diagnosis and outcome was so sad. His ultimate wish was to get back home to spend the rest of his short life left with his beloved family.

sharon-2I made a point of seeing John everyday in Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary. It was essential to build up that relationship. During the 2 weeks I delivered education on how to care for a patient with an UWSD. Approximately 30 nurses received education, Kirkcudbright Hospital Staff, District Nurses and Rapid Response Team. As you can imagine there was a lot of anxiety, fear and uncertainty amongst the nurses. This was actually the first patient to get discharged to Kirkcudbright Hospital with a UWSD. John was fully aware of my role and was updated.

The time had come, John was ready for discharge. Understandably so, he was very anxious. I took the decision to actually go in the back of the ambulance with him to Kirkcudbright Hospital. Holding his hand and bantering away we both arrived to our destination. We were pleasantly greeted by the nursing staff. They knew John as he was a local from the town and had received care from them in the past.

His family were so supportive especially his daughter Michelle, whom I have now made a lifelong friend.

John managed to continue life for 7 months in Kirkcudbright Hospital. Unfortunately he did not get his wish to go home but in all fairness the care he received from the hospital staff made his last few months comfortable and to have that precious time with his family. He managed to celebrate his 60th birthday with his family. It was an emotional, uplifting day.

I guess what I’m trying to say folks….

“Going that extra mile” was so successful and beneficial. I would certainly do it all again.

Thanks for taking time to read this.

Sharon Shaw is Clinical Educator for NHS Dumfries and Galloway

 

 

 

In Memory of Kate by @kendonaldson

Over the years compassion and kindness have been common themes on this blog and nobody encompassed them more than Kate Granger.

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Kate was many things; Consultant geriatrician, campaigner, wife, aunty, MBE and patient. She was born and raised in Yorkshire and after qualifying in medicine from Edinburgh University returned there to complete her training in medicine for the elderly. She married the love of her life, Chris Pointon, in 2005 and then in 2011, at the age of 29, everything changed. After falling ill whilst on holiday in California she was diagnosed with a Sarcoma and given 12 – 18 months to live. Characteristically she decided to defy the odds and do something meaningful with the short time she had left.

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I think it would be fair to say that prior to her illness Kate was a compassionate, caring and person centred clinician who inspired those around her. However her illness gave her a unique insight into how we deliver healthcare, in particular the ‘small things’ which we often forget – like introducing ourselves. It was during a hospital admission in 2013 that Kate noticed that none of the healthcare professionals dealing with her told her their names. The first person to do so, and show real care and compassion, was a porter. She reflected (and raged a little) about this and from that experience the #hellomynameis campaign was born.

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#hellomynameis is a great example of a very simple idea which has the power to make a difference. It started on twitter and progressed to name badges, internet memes and finally circled the globe. During the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa those caring for the afflicted could write their name on a #hellomynameis sticker and attach it to their protective suit and thus patients would at least know the name of those tending them. Many politicians and celebrities have endorsed the project and it has been adopted in many countries around the world. I for one continue to wear my badge with pride.

We were very fortunate that Kate wrote for this blog in 2014 just prior to her visit to NHS D&G. Her blog can be read here.

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Since Kate died I have read many obituaries and blogs which are far more thoughtful, and certainly more eloquent, than anything I can hope to write. I would like to quote a few of them here.

Ali Cracknell, a fellow Geriatrician and friend had this to say on the British Geriatrics Society blog:

“I always thought we would work together long term, and the thing that makes me really smile is Kate is with me more than any other person at work. Every encounter with a patient “hello my name is …”, every MDT, every meeting with a new member of the team and every morning I put on my “hello my name is” badge, she is with me, she is behind every little thing I do every day, that just makes such a difference. How could one person make a difference like that?  “#hello my name is”, is so much more than those 4 words, Kate knew that and felt it, and we all do, it is the person behind the words, the hierarchy that melts away, the patient:professional barrier that is lowered, the compassion and warmth of those words.”

Just Giving, the website through which Kate raised over £250,000, described 5 Lessons they learned from Kate. You can read them in depth here but the 5 lessons are:

1) We need to communicate
2) Always rebel
3) Remember romance
4) Make goals
5) It’s ok to talk about down days

A little more about number 3, Remember romance. Just giving had this to say about that…

“Kate and her husband Chris have set the bar high when it comes to romance. Throughout Kate’s journey, she never forgot to mention how important her partner is to her and how lucky she feels to have met her soulmate. After the diagnosis, the couple recreated their wedding day and renewed their vows. They even did their first ever date in Leeds all over again.
The duo did absolutely everything together, including competing in fundraising events.
Seeing Kate and Chris wine, dine and care for one another teaches us to never take our loved ones for granted, and to remember romance. The couple remained incredibly close and strong for the duration of Kate’s illness, and managed to maintain an amazing sense of humour in the darkest of
times. It reminds us all to reflect on how we treat our partners.”

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The BMJ published a particularly touching obituary which can be read here.

I will end with a quote from Macleans, a Canadian weekly magazine…

“Jeremy, Jackie, Tasha, Lucy, Pam—Kate’s doctors and nurses had names in her blogs and Twitter feeds. Outliving expectations by three and a half years, she met her fundraising goal of £250,000 for Yorkshire Cancer Charity, encouraging doctors worldwide to say hello, as she herself said goodbye.
On July 23, 2016, on her 11th wedding anniversary, three days after meeting her fundraising target, Kate was lying in her hospice room, no longer able to swallow. Christopher opened a bottle of champagne and placed drops on Kate’s lips. Caretakers called in her other family members. At 3:50pm, after Adam and Christopher’s mother had arrived at her bedside, Kate stopped breathing. She was 34.”

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Ken Donaldson is Deputy Medical Director (Acute Services) at NHS Dumfries and Galloway

Inspirational by Eddie Docherty

As the new Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Executive Director I’ve now been in post since February 1st. As I write this blog almost exactly 4 months since starting, Id like to use this opportunity to introduce myself to as many staff as possible, and share some of my initial thoughts.

Prior to starting in NHS Dumfries and Galloway I’d worked in a number of health boards. Initially working in NHS Lanarkshire, in critical care and advanced practice, I moved to NHS Ayrshire and Arran in 2007, initially as nurse consultant for the acutely unwell adult, moving on to senior nurse consultant then associate nurse director. During this period I also worked in NHS Orkney as associate nurse director for 8 months, learning about the challenges and rewards of working in a remote and rural setting. For the year prior to commencing in D&G I worked as the lead nurse for East Ayrshire Integrated Joint Board and Associate Nurse Director for Primary care and Community Nursing. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career, supported and developed by truly inspirational staff throughout the years, and have maintained roles which have allowed for direct patient contact through most of my time in nursing. Working with patients and staff has always been a key priority for me- its why I started nursing.

This link to inspirational staff continues as I’ve moved to NHS Dumfries and Galloway. At the last Twitter conversation held by the Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Fiona McQueen, one of the questions posed was: – What are you most proud of in your current role? I didn’t hesitate in my answer. I spoke of the compassion I see and hear about everyday from the staff in NHS D&G. The value of compassion is clearly embedded throughout our teams, from the Board to the staff directly delivering care to our patients. The key attitude of compassion in our delivery of care is reflected in the shared behaviours and attitudes I’ve seen in the last 4 months and is the springboard for the excellence in care we all strive for. Of course we aren’t perfect, but on the whole, compassion is being displayed. What I would ask everyone is this- are we compassionate to each other? Are you compassionate to yourself? The organisation is in a period of unprecedented change as we join an integrated world and build a new hospital. D&G couldn’t do just one major change at a time! The financial challenge is more acute than ever as we try to do the same, or even more, with less. If we are not compassionate towards ourselves and each other we may find ourselves overwhelmed and begin to lose touch with the reasons we all came into health care? Something to think about.

We often speak of our challenges, but clearly this period brings significant opportunities. I believe that each team hold the answers to most problems within their areas. The ability to adapt and innovate, to find solutions to complex problems, lie within the gift of all of our teams. If empowerment of staff is to truly have meaning then the staff have to feel empowered to enact change. The application of quality improvement methodology and an understanding of the theories of profound knowledge are the survival tools of the 21st century health care team. I have spoken to staff around our areas about the need for innovation and commonly say “The answer is in the room” It usually is. Someone within the area has the exact answer to the problem. If all staff members can see that improvement is something they do rather than have done to them, combined with the skills and understanding of the science of improvement, we can absolutely change the landscape we all work in.

Speaking to senior nursing, midwifery and AHP staff I have been incredibly impressed with the projects and ideas being developed, and in many areas there is great work being done in one key area: patient experience and satisfaction. For many years patient experience and satisfaction have been placed in the ‘nice to do’ category of work. As we move forward it is clear that the patient experiences of our systems are key to understanding how effective we are. There are many great local examples of this, from such areas as mental health, critical care, occupational therapy and medicine, but we haven’t yet shown our ability to do this at scale and share our learning across the entire organisation. I’m confident we will, following the discussions I’ve had with various teams, but it’s not something we can do without anymore. We look at, and report on, complaints as they come in and use them to look at individual areas of improvement, however, working in Scotland, we don’t spend any time looking at compliments and positive feedback. If we can capture the learning points from the good and bad episodes of the patient experience we can gain a better understanding of the impact we have in a balanced way.

I feel honoured to be Executive Director for Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions within NHS Dumfries and Galloway. Everywhere I look I see staff members that are committed to the care and well being of their patients and who place the person at the heart of everything they do. We have challenges and opportunities ahead of us and I’m absolutely convinced we can shape the future of our services together to meet the needs of our patients and improve the health of our communities.

Eddie Docherty is Director of Nursing at NHS Dumfries and Galloway

 

Thank you to Ward 18 and DGRI by Kevin Irving

Dear Mr Ace,

I am writing to you to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to the staff in Ward 18 (Elderly Care) of the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary. Whilst I was visiting the UK my Mother took critically ill and was admitted to the hospital where she received excellent care from the doctors and staff on this particular ward. I spent nearly 4 to 5 hours a day in the hospital for over 15 days attending my mother’s bedside and could observe the highest quality of care. Having worked in health and safety in my career as a mining engineer, at the most senior executive level, for over 35 years I can honestly comment that the leadership and team work on Ward 18 was some of the best I have seen and is a credit to the staff.

The doctors on the ward, from the lead consultant caring for my mother to the rest of the team, showed enormous care and compassion to my mother’s needs and requests. My mother made what I think we all would agree was a remarkable recovery. During the difficult time of when my mother was very ill the doctors ensured that both my sister and I were well informed and we were able to have very open and honest discussions regarding my mother’s care. They also showed compassion towards my sister and my own feelings through what was a very stressful period.

Ward 18

I would like to give special thanks to Snr Charge Nurse Janice Cluckie who demonstrates incredible leadership to her staff and also discussed my mother’s needs with empathy and thoughtfulness. It was clear to see that she took time to see that all patients on her ward were well cared for. Janice is certainly a role model that your organisation should be proud of.

I have nothing but praise for the ward staff who showed consideration and care for all the patients. From a visitors point of view I saw total dedication to their duty for the well-being of their patients with humbleness and sincere kind heartedness.

Whilst spending time in the area I had the opportunity to look around the premises and surf the internet about the hospital. I see from your Board papers and Inspectors reports that you have some areas for improvement. I can only say from my observations that you certainly appear to be on a positive trend. I noted in your most recent Board papers that complaints about the hospital service are on the increase. I would recommend making a KPI of some of the positive comments you may be receiving, such as this letter, as they may show another side of the story or use information from the website www.patientopinion.org.uk or NHS Choices website.

As an aside I used the dining room daily at lunch times and the food served was of good healthy quality, a good price and presented by excellent welcoming staff. I feel the NHS food is sometimes often viewed negatively. I can only say that Dumfries and Galloway seem to be improving this aspect of patient and staff care.

I would be very grateful if you could ensure that the leadership team of Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary give some recognition and positive feedback on my behalf to the doctors and staff on Ward 18.

With many thanks, yours sincerely

Kevin Irving

Kevin, who lives in Australia, added a handwritten post script which read “Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the sunny side of Down Under.”