Friday, October 9, 2009

Sticks and Stones

Overheard during shift report:

"What is she doing here?  What are we doing for her?"

These were benign enough words, but said with with a callous tone, they were enough to upset the family who overheard them.  Try asking those questions again with a tone as though the patient doesn't belong on your unit because this person is dying.  I think you can see how differently these words can be interpreted.  I have news for nurses out there who think this way:  Dying is a part of the continuum of life and is as natural as birth. Dying hospice patients belong anywhere they happen to be including homes, nursing homes, medical surgical units, emergency rooms and ICUs.  We shouldn't be so put out when someone happens to be dying on our unit.  

Contrast the above with a scenario I had from awhile ago:  The nurses of a telemetry step down unit wanted to care for their now dying patient.  They knew this patient and the family and wanted to be the caregivers honored to give care at the end.  Instead of transferring this patient to a more private unit, we allowed this person to remain in that room with providers who cared.

For a mindful exercise, try to put yourself in someone else's shoes.  I can guarantee with 100% certainty that some day, you'll be the one in need of a nurse's care at the end of life.  Why not pay it forward now?


jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you for sticking up for these people. Especially when death is near, we need more sensitivity and carefulness with what we say and do!

At the end of my training, I did a half year rotation at Hospice- I really enjoyed it and learned a lot!

sapphireblue said...

Amen Sister!

Renie Burghardt said...

I can't believe how insensitive people can be. And they're nurses?

Brenda said...

Oh boy...I feel sorry for them when the tables are turned one day. But I hope they shape up before that happens.

Anonymous said...

Amen I say to that.

Gail said...

When there was no hope for my mom's recovery, they kept shifting her further back into the hospital where no would see. They would bring trays in and pick the untouched trays up. We would come in to wet beds and change them ourselves.

I am sorry but I have lost my faith in many hospitals.

Rudee said...

Gail, we signed my mother in law onto hospice with the agreement that she would stay inpatient until her daughter got in from out of state (5 days). I wasn't to my driveway an hour later when the phone rang to come and pick her up. Now that she was dying, the hospital wanted nothing more to do with her. She'd stopped being a money maker. I still think about them being so underhanded and despise that hospital.

J'Ollie Primitives said...

I've worked with good and bad good and bad hospitals. The good ones shine in my memory.

Cold efficiency and snide remarks (and 99% of administrative policies) should be banished from what used to be a patient-centered unit. Whatever happened to the concept of "an environment of care?"

Kathleen said...

Wow! This one really got to me, Rudee. I'm reminded of how incredibly kind the nurses were in the hospital when my 83-year-old Mom had come in for pneumonia but died 5 days later in "comfort care." I was so terrified when I chose hospice for her that they'd kick us out. But they told me in no uncertain terms that as long as she was "actively dying" she could stay right there and they'd do everything possible to make her comfortable while we waited for a hospice bed to open up. It was such a relief, and they send in a team called 'Transitions in Life Caring" (TLC) who walked me through the entire experience. By God they were great. People just like YOU!

Lucky me. Lucky Mom.



The Crusty Crone said...

I agree. There's no better learning experience than to walk a mile in the other person's shoe.

Jane said...

Wow, what a post. Such a lesson in being careful what you say.

Different situation, but when we first moved to America, I took my daughter to register for school. We anxiously went to her new classroom and waited outside while the secretary went in to talk to the teacher. I overheard her say, "Oh, no! Not ANOTHER one!" I've never felt so unwanted.

debra said...

Words have power and should be chosen with care. Important to remember. xox