Where is your cape?


nurse with woundedThe despair increases daily. Was it always like this?  I suspect in the beginning there was despair over how patients were treated, and thus was born the training programs of the Nightingale.  Cleanliness, nutrition, exercise, fresh air, compassion. Where are these aspect in nursing today?

I had the opportunity to ask a like question at a research day for nursing recently.  A room of fresh young nurses, and a few older ones and we talked.  I asked them when we stopped touching patients.  I asked if they were taught this in school and about half said yes and half said no.  How can that be?  Either this is a basic human need or it is not.  The evidence is there that it is a basic human need, so…

I told them about nursing in the 1970’s.  How the first thing we learned and what every patient received each and every day was a back rub.  I heard from the nurses in the room on possible reasons why this is not a part of what we do.  I talked to them about gloves and how touch in nursing used to mean skin on skin contact and how nurses use gloves now to protect themselves. One student said she heard a nurse tell a patient that she was not giving a back rub because she is a nurse, not a masseuse.  Another nurse, a male this time, said he would never, ever give a patient a back rub. There was talk about societal  understanding of touch, and how it is  more acceptable for a female still today to provide touch. There was caution and discomfort in the men to consider delivering compassionate touch, despite was we all know about the therapeutic benefits.

It is easier to be comfortable with the technologies of nursing, than the basis of nursing.  Touch and compassion is not seen as ‘being scientific’ and nursing carries a great shame of not being seen as scientific.  Compassion requires you to be present, to take some time, to be there for that patient at that moment, without a consideration of what came before or what comes after.

I heard of doctors ordering lotion application to get the patient touched, or hugs.  We still require a physician to direct our practice? This is not the professionalism nurses sought.  This is a façade. We would be better to go back to hospital based apprenticeships.

This drive to ensure a degree  as entry to practice is a dismal failure. We churn out nurses who don’t know and create a culture that can’t care.

But we do know APA.


Don’t let me get sick, don’t let me get sick…

I pray this daily, or would if prayer was effective. Rather a mantra instead.

Why after 40 years in health care would I be terrified to get sick, or to have a loved one ill and in the system?

One reason. Healthcare workers.

Today I discovered that the hand hygiene posters I put up to inform families of hand hygiene compliance in the ICU were taken down. Of course no one ever knows who does this. Except I think they do know. A couple years ago someone took it upon themselves to tear down a poster done by one of the nurses on hand hygiene. It was a fun, amusing poster featuring sesame street characters and humourous quotes from them. The someone in the staff was ‘offended’ and found it demeaning and insulting and tore it down.  Someone was never found.

In April we agreed to post hand hygiene compliance in areas where the public could see. On the anteroom doors to isolation rooms and in the halls. ICU staff – that mysterious ‘someone’ again, were ‘offended’  I do not think that word means what you think it means.

A hand hygiene compliance rate of 49% is shameful and embarrassing, but YOU do not get to be offended by it – the public can be offended, but YOU should simply be ashamed. Fast forward to a month later. The rate is up to 67% after a month of 49% staring you in the face. And now nurses are ‘demoralized’ and feel bullied.

Sorry again, but I do  not think that word means what you think it means. Just because you do not like something does not mean you are bullied. Just because you don’t like something does not make it offensive.

Here is what bullying it – making statement that the rates are lies, that it isn’t done correctly and taking that work down. THAT is bullying. When you say it isn’t correct or that it is lies you demean and imply I am lying and dishonest, or unskilled and don’t know what I am doing. You are bullying me and the work I do. By taking the posters down you make it so I have to repeat the work I have already done. These are bully behaviours.

But we always knew you were bullies. I have not forgotten your mob rule of 2007-2008

mob rule

So back to Don’t let me get Sick – why would I want healthcare providers who only clean their hands 50% of the time caring for me or anyone I care about? Why would I want to be in the hands of a bully?