I am typing this as I dust off my open toe sandals and store away my winter coat. Brighter, sunnier, longer days = mood elevated and the feeling that anything is possible. I will continue where I left off and introduce you properly to Joyce. As the story unfolds you will hopefully see all the hard work that followed, since Joyce gave me that ‘lightbulb’ moment.
Joyce is a resident at a care home I used to work at and would enjoy long chats, so in order to try to meet her needs, in a person centred way, I would often chat to her at the end of my medication. This wasn’t always possible at earlier times as I would also need to consider the other residents who were requiring medication, so sometimes this would mean Joyce would wait until last.
Joyce welcomed me into her world – sharing family photos and stories, showing me her hand painted art and reading clippings of religious material which she made her think of me on my days off.
I in turn introduced Joyce into my world – showing her pictures of my dog, Sam and bringing him in to visit. Once I took a picture of a painting that was hanging in Joyce’s’ room, a wedding anniversary present which she is extremely fond of but knew little about. I then attempted to research its origin and background on line for her. I also often discussed issues I had with my partner Rob regarding the difficulties of being so far away from each other.
Joyce seemed to enjoy listening as much as she did talking and always offered a kind word of advice and would often ask how Rob and Sam are doing.
Within nursing I have found that if you are seen to be talking you are seen to be not working. I feel this is part of assessing and monitoring the person in your care albeit an informal method; what about person centred care, mental health and wellbeing, patient choice and job satisfaction? It seems that these are not always accounted for in the budget and staff numbers.
I have lost count of how many times I have said ‘…Won’t be a minute’, apologising and then we would laugh that a nurse’s time zone is different from the rest of the world. I will also admit that I have asked other members of staff to come and get me; if I know that a certain family member/resident will keep me much longer than I can afford to give them.
This is not through malice or not being interested in stories but me trying to work in a way that is for the greater good. With Joyce it was a compromise of her wanting that time and me wanting to get medication administered within a reasonable time – that’s why we would chat after.
I would listen to how Joyce felt living in a care home and it very quickly emerged that it really was the small things that were important to her – a cup of tea when she would like it, a raised chair to help her see the view from her window, a chat and simply being treated with respect and dignity.
I’m not sure I had ever listened to anyone as much as I had Joyce and to see things from a service user’s eyes, at times was upsetting. Not that Joyce was being mistreated like you see on Panorama but just missing out on the simple things which we take for granted … like being able to pop the kettle on… I have done it twice since typing this blog.
It was through conversations with Joyce and the staff group I was working with who would joke about an idealistic care home we called ‘Joyce’s Palace’; ‘Oh it won’t be like this in Joyce’s Palace’, ‘Oh this will certainly be happening in Joyce’s Palace’, ‘In Joyce’s Palace we will have x,y,z’.
This without realising it, was the start of my quest in developing an intensive, practical, relevant carer’s induction course.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
Speak to you next month and… have the best day ever!