When caring for patients and whaanau/family members it is often the little things that make the biggest difference.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest accomplishment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
-Leo Buscaglia: Professor at the University of Southern California and Author
My dad, who lives in England was recently very unwell. In fact he was initially a patient in Intensive Care and was not expected to survive. But my dad is made of strong stuff, and I’m glad to say he is now much better and on a general ward. He told me that “not surviving was not in his personal plan for now”.
As you can imagine being on the receiving end of healthcare services has been a difficult and interesting time for me and I have experienced some wonderful, and some not so wonderful, interactions with healthcare staff. The most memorable moments reflect the ‘smallest acts of caring’ as mentioned in the quote from Leo Buscaglia above. The best experiences included a smile, a touch, eye contact and an introduction from staff to my dad and family members.
Some of my worst memories were when the opposite happened and I remember waiting at the nurse’s station, for what seemed a long time before someone acknowledged I was there. I also noticed there was no smile or introduction from staff when they entered dad’s room to provide care or treatment.
At first this lack of interaction made me sad and disappointed in my fellow healthcare colleagues. Later it evoked stronger feelings, including frustration and even a little anger at what I consider to be a lack of respect for my dad and my family. I felt I needed to share how we felt and spent a lot of time with ward staff and senior leaders at the hospital helping them to understand the experience from our point of view. I even introduced them to the great work on AIDET, which is being implemented at CM Health.
I now want to introduce you to Kate Granger.
Kate is a 31 year old Specialist Registrar in Geriatric Medicine in England and she has a rare and aggressive form of sarcoma. During an admission to hospital she said; “I was struck how, for the most part, not one of the doctors, nurses or support staff introduced themselves. But when they did, it made such a difference to the person receiving care.”
During subsequent hospital admissions Kate used social media to share her experiences. Through Twitter she launched the ‘hello my name is’ campaign (#hellomynameis) which has generated 48 million tweets from healthcare professionals and patients around the globe
Kate has also been active in writing a blog, presenting at forums, writing short books and endorsing the creation of a name badge that others can order. I recently ordered a name badge and have been told it’s the first one to come to New Zealand!
Kate Granger is a strong and influential woman and even in her last months of life she continues to campaign for what is important for patients.
In every interaction you have with patients or family/whaanau please remember to say “Hello my name is…”