This blog has been rattling around in my head for a few weeks now, mainly because I wanted to find the right words to share my thinking. Sometimes I feel that we have to be careful with our words so that we don’t get misinterpreted .. I hope that I have chosen the right words and I am sure that my caution will become clear as your read on.
A little while ago whilst working a clinical shift I seemed to be inundated with tea. Yes, you heard me right … tea! I made cup, after cup, after cup of tea. I got many comments from the people I care for along the lines of “oh i don’t want to bother you” and “you are too busy to make tea” After my shift had ended I reflected on my tea making and these are some of the conclusions I came to:
To the lady with dementia who swore she hadn’t had a cup of tea all day – I saw that you were more confused than usual and I was concerned that you may be in the early stages of a urinary infection, so wanted to increase your fluid intake (The British Association of Urological Surgeons 2017)
To the man who was married to the lady with dementia – I made you a cup of tea because I felt that as eating and drinking are very social things your wife would be more likely to drink her tea if you joined her for a cup (Alzheimers Society 2017)
To the lady who really hates the taste of the medicine she has to take – I made you a cup of tea because it’s your favourite drink and I know that the taste of the medicine is easier to bear with a cup of tea ready and waiting. (no reference here, just the evidence of knowing the people i care for)
To the lady who was upset that day because it was just a bad day – I made you a cup of tea as that’s what you needed at that time. (The Telegraph 2019 – apologies I can’t find the original study here)
To the lady with dementia who was starting to get agitated because she often does in the evening – I made you a cup of tea and found you an interesting book to look through so you could focus on something positive. (Alzheimers Society 2017)
To all the staff who I made a cup of tea for – I know that you were all on a long day and it had been a busy morning before I arrived and I wanted to make sure that you were hydrated as if you were dehydrated this can affect the safety of the people you are caring for. (Natural Hydration Council 2017) I also know that happy staff make for happy patients (Kings Fund 2012)
To all of these people – I know the importance of a cup of tea and the impact that it can have (Care Opinion Search)
So why did it take me so long to write this blog and why was I worried about finding the right words … well I didn’t spend my shift making tea because it was the nice thing to do, or because I am kind, or because I am an “Angel” I made tea because I spent 3 years training to be a nurse and 20 years nursing and I know that in each and every one of these interventions tea mattered. Some days I when nursing I spend my time figuring out why wounds aren’t healing, caring for people who are at the end of their lives who need complex care and support, managing peoples pain, liaising with other health care professionals, training and supervising staff, supporting people who suddenly become very unwell and much, much, much more …. and on each and every one of those days I apply the same thinking as I did to my “tea day”
Whilst I wanted to stress the importance of a simple cup of tea I also did not want to trivialise the profession that I belong to … nursing is complex and we need people to understand that behind each and every intervention there is an evidence base … even tea!
I made tea that day because it was important, on multiple levels, at that time, and for those people. I don’t make tea because of some perceived hand maiden role in nursing or because I am not highly skilled and highly trained. I’m not ever too busy to make a cup of tea for someone who needs it and it’s never a bother to be asked. Some days tea is important, some days it’s not. I apply thinking and reasoning to my actions and deduce that sometimes tea is needed and is important … it’s evidence based tea and it can mean the world to someone.