It’s that time of year when we all head out to visit our nearest and dearest and my family is certainly big on Christmas visiting. It is not that we don’t see each other all year round, we do, but at Christmas we spend a little more time together. So this week we headed out with the little one and the two teenagers to visit my Husbands elderly Aunt and Uncle. We always love going as they are lots of fun and we get some really lovely Danish food (as my Husbands Uncle originally hails from Denmark) Of course they know that I am a nurse (I am sure that many of you will relate to this) so when we visit I often get to hear about their latest medical escapades and this visit was no exception.
Now whilst usually quite complimentary about nurses my Husbands Uncle on this occasion proceeded to tell me about how awful the nurses were on his latest hospital admission. He explained about how the nurses had refused to “lift” him. This made me smile a little, as I have known my Husbands Uncle for some 17 years now and I know that sometimes he really does need a little encouragement to do things and I also know that he is mobile and this is something he would not want to loose. Therefore in my mind I had already seen what I thought would be the nurses reasoning for not lifting him, as a gentleman nearing the far side of 70 maintaining and promoting independence has to be key, however as its always nice to hear his stories so I asked him what the nurses reasoning was. My Husbands Uncle stated that the nurses told him that they weren’t allowed to lift people anymore because of health and safety. Ok, so I can hear you all saying that this is perfectly true, lifting is a strict “no no” for nurses these days, long gone are the days when we hefted patients about using Australian and through arm lifts.
But what is wrong with saying this to a patient? Well …. My husbands Uncle then launched into a tirade about what a load of nonsense this was and what good was a nurse who couldn’t help people to move about! This got me thinking and reflecting, I have at times explained to patients that I have been unable to lift them as we just cant do that anymore …. However is that what I meant? How relevant was that to the people I have cared for?
So what should the nurses have said to my Husbands Uncle? Well perhaps if they had explained to him that it was best if he tried to mobilise himself and maybe reassuring him that they could stay with him and give him some tips. Maybe they could have helped him with the best positioning to get him up and mobile. Maybe they could have reassured him that its ok, it will take some time but keep going. Maybe then my Husbands Uncle wouldn’t have felt the nurses were “awful” (I might add that at the time he said this my Husbands Aunt was stood behind him shaking her head and later told me that they were lovely and just trying to get him moving again!)
It’s hard a times to say the right thing, but the more I think about it the more that “we don’t do that anymore” sounds a little too much like “the dog ate my homework” We need to communicate with the people we care for and explain our reasoning, we need to work with them and be solution focussed. Looking forward to 2015 I want to be the type of nurse that says “Perhaps if we try this ….. “ or “How can we help you to do this ….” Positive language rather than negative excuses is surely the better way to nurse.
As for my husbands Uncle … well he quickly moved on to enthral us with a story about how he and his brother went sailing with their Uncle off the coast of Copenhagen and ended up in very muddy waters!!!!