Making hospitals bearable
12 Sep 2012
Making hospitals bearable
Just a very brief update to start with. I'm still at home and still largely bed-chair bound, and still suffering pain as my poor body tries to get the measure of pain killers, the bloating, constipation and the build up of gas. At one point I'm in so much pain I had agreed to go to the hospice, but at the last moment I decided I'd rather be at home. It's silly but all of this is much more painful then the underlying cancer.
On Friday I was also whisked by ambulance into the Royal Marsden Hospital for a MRI scan. This follwed a very painful attack down my arms and back, and there was fear it might have triggered the cancer getting further into the bones but the scan proved ok. It still took many more hours to make my get away, which we finally did by taxi mini cab. Luckily I had one new diversion, I was loaned a ukulele, so now im trying to master a few chords. Not as easy as I hoped, but worth persevering as I think singing - even singing as bad as mine - will help strengthen the lungs. I have noticed my voice getting very weak recently, so be warned!
My second diversion is starting a mini patients' guide for making hospitals bearable - these are just small, everyday tips that, in my recents stays in 3 different hospitals, made a huge difference. Please do add your thoughts and suggestions this could really improve the quality of patient life at no extra cost.
- There should always be a welcome to the ward and a guide to where the facilities are.
- This should include being shown the day room, the toilets and places where visitors can gather.
- Never leave the patient without water (this happened surprisingly often).
- Nurses: always say your name.
- All staff: smile when you bring food or drink you will be rewarded.
- Please don't move my bedside table out of reach when I have just lined everything up for the night.
- At night when leaving your bay, please close the door.
- Please put things back where they were.
- It's great when you anticipate my needs, it shows great empathy.
- Above all, please explain clearly why you are doing something.
Things that spoil a stay in hospital:
- Six bed bays are too large and belong to the Victorian era.
- A long walk to the toilet and bathroom.
- Completely airless bathrooms.
- Bathroom so hot that when you've finished your shower, you are ready to start again!
- Tap water so hot you are unable to hold hands under the tap.
- Water not hot enough to kill germs.
- Rarely cleaned toilets.
- Soap dispenser left oempty for days.
- Don't rush patients off a ward they have gotten used to.
Above all, it is the human touch, it is the friendliness, the human stories and being treated like a person that makes the difference. When staff have time to do this it is lovely. I have been in hospitals where all the staff - caterers, to cleaners, to nurses - have been friendly and really worked at improving your time there, I have been so greatful to them. At others, usually with a lot of bank staff, they are clearly over worked and under staffed and despite their best intentions they cannot give you the full support you could do with at this vunrable time.
I will think of more comments for this list and I certainly welcome your contributions.