As health care providers we need to walk a mile in patients shoes, to be able to properly fill our own.
Today after working a 12 hour shift then visiting my beautiful daughter in the hospital, then grabbing a few groceries so my cat had something to eat besides me in my sleep. I climbed in the shower feeling tired and thinking of the 24 hour shift that starts in 8 hours. I stood there under the hot water as it loosened the tired muscles and wiped away the grim of the day. I started to think how much I love taking a long hot shower at the end of the day. Then I thought of many of the clients and patients in Ontario that are seen by home care, in Long Term Care or in Hospital for long periods of time.
When I worked on a hospital unit with Stroke and Dementia patients we would have 6-8 patients to get washed, dressed, fed, changed again and ready in the first two hours of our shift. This meant that while you wanted to and gave the best care possible and tried to take your time, you had seven other patients totally dependant on you and administration staff, physio, etc upset if they weren’t ready by 9 am…even if the patient had to sit and wait for 2 hours for their therapy. Once breakfast was rushed into them while you are trying to feed three completely dependent patients at the same time to hurry up and get them fed so they can sit or lay there until lunchtime when the rush is repeated.
Why don’t patients in hospital have appointments with their care giver. Not a rushed time. If a dementia patient is in a better mood for the entire day when they get to sleep in until 9 why do staff have to rush in their room and wake them from a comfortable sleep to suit the hospital staffs schedule. Are we not there to care for them?…. The next time you wake up in the morning think about your morning routine. Do you like someone waking you up to remind you how miserable you feel or confused you are?
The next time you have a shower, think about your shower routine…do you like to take your time drying off afterwards or perhaps like me you give your shoulders a massage with the water. It is a comfort and refreshing it makes you feel better. No as you are having a shower, imagine it is with someone you’ve known for 10 minutes that woke you up to bath you from a basin before they move on to your roommate who is only a curtain away. Think about being told you can have a shower but only with someone helping you, and only on their schedule.
What about your meals…I have seen workers on hospital units and long term care facilities take the minced food that was the consistency of apple sauce and mix everything on their tray together to feed the patient faster. There was no conversation, no taking the time for the client to taste and enjoy the meal. When you are eating breakfast, think how much you like your morning coffee (that one specific way) and to read the paper while you eat your favorite breakfast. Now picture lying in a bed given a lukewarm coffee made all wrong with someone standing over you or sitting beside you waiting for you to take each bite……and even though it is not what you want and your stomach hurts you know it is the only thing you will be offered before lunchtime so you better eat NOW and wait til THEN.
It would be nice if caregiving staff had the time and training to interact with a patient, whether the patient can communicate back or not. We need to train compassion, and the importance of it, and the enforcement of it. No more rushing through patients to have them lie in bed or sitting staring at a tv for the other 10 hours of the day. Taking time to actually care. The cost of extra Personal Support Workers, Recreational Therapists, Nursing staff, Art and Music Therapy programs will save our health care system more than any technological or research advance money is spent on.
We need to change the way we teach Health care providers to care. We need to connect them to their patient again and let them realize what a patient is going through. We need to remind workers that care is the most important thing. Patients will feel better, be healthier, have a better quality of life and health if we truly do focus on the patient and not the hospital or LTC staffs schedule. Let workers who care actually do so.
When doing homecare I was at a staff meeting and someone brought up the lack of travel time given between clients on our schedule. The managers answer was “Well if you have an hour booked with a client you spend 45 minutes with the client and 15 travel time. You can be done showering them or cooking their meal in 45 minutes….Yes I can…I can’t give them the care they need in that time. Their day and health would be better and costs would be down if we actually devoted the time to dignity and compassion and reminding our health care staff how to connect in a human way.
Staff are told to have Patient Centered care at all times but nothing about the administration of Health care services in Ontario whether it is physical or mental health is actually PATIENT centered or CARE.