Clinical patient dignity is not equal to real patient dignity, trust me!
We talk about patient dignity and compassion all the time but aren’t they simply fashionable new buzz words?
In the back of my mind I’m thinking that the phrase ‘patient or person-centred’ feels like a term we often use but don’t actually fully embrace.
Being patient-centred is‘where the rules and procedures of the health care fit the person, rather than making the person fit the rules and procedures of the health service’ according to The Royal College of Nursing.
We also talk about treating ‘the whole patient’. The phrase sounds nice doesn’t it? So does that mean we treat the whole patient by understanding that patients’ former life, interests, motivations, family AND FRIEND dynamics, before they got ill? If it is then great but this was often not the case with me or other patients..
Wouldn’t this help improve patient outcomes, facilitate patients’ earlier discharge home and reduce overall treatment costs?
Most patients I engage with via social media through the charity I founded – Fighting Strokes – think these are simply convenient, empty words or slogans.
I will always be forever grateful for the knowledge, professionalism, diligence and timeliness of my own brainstem stroke with locked-in treatment action plan. This started on 7th February 2010 almost immediately after I collapsed at home and continued in the ambulance, ICU and then on in rehab. I completely understand that the NHS is being squeezed from every angle and at a time when patient treatment expectations are also going through the roof!
Without the immediate treatment response I received to my illness, I wouldn’t have been able to return home to be a mother to my three, dependent children and a wife to my husband.
But I also wouldn’t have become the VOICE that I am for other stroke survivors globally either. I like to think I’m a true patient advocate.
Stroke recovery, acute locked in syndrome improvement and raising awareness of the physical and emotional post-stroke issues, once ‘the bomb has exploded’, is my calling, it’s simply not a choice for me. I received amazing life-saving treatment and I have a second chance of life which I have grabbed with both hands, for as long as I am around!
So when we talk of compassion and patient dignity I have one simple rule to help the caring/life-saving profession – TREAT PEOPLE LIKE YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED. Simple!
For example, when a paralysed woman (who is heavily menstruating) is the wrapped up in the standard issue-white-NHS towel after a shower, I suggest that every effort should be made to preserve her dignity and quickly dress her and replace a new incontinence pad. Trust me, it would have helped me manage my anxiety levels enormously.
Similarly, don’t ALWAYS send a student nurse to attend a locked-in patient when the patient needs their soiled ‘nappy’ changing as it generally takes four times longer to do, (and with considerably more wipes.) Just because the patient can’t complain, more often than not a qualified nurse should do this task.
Finally, when doctors or nurses say they will do something for a patient, but then don’t/can’t, explain this to the individual immediately. Try not to leave the patient waiting.
They will usually respect your honesty and understand that you have had an unforeseen event to attend to ahead of their promised treatment procedure. The patient is also likely to trust you more.
It’s not rocket science!
As I stress, please TREAT PEOPLE LIKE YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED (or how you would treat your Gran!)
I Am Still The Same -Self help stroke recovery tool