Many of you reading this post have spent a fair amount of time in hospital. It’s pretty hard not too when you have an ostomy, and everything that can come with that!
Since my urostomy surgery in 2015 when I officially became a ‘double bagger’ I have spent a lot of time in hospital due to complications with my ileostomy prolapse, numerous refashion surgeries, kidney infections and recurrent unknown sepsis. Last year I clocked up a total of 7 months as an inpatient in Bournemouth Hospital mainly on ward 15 and 16 the colorectal and urology surgical wards, which were fantastic and like my second home. This year I have only been admitted 6 times which is a miracle in itself compared to last year.
Being a regular inpatient we have a very unique position where we see and observe what goes on! Witness changes on the ward that work well and some that don’t. During our many admissions we build a rapport with staff from cleaners to doctors and nurses to porters.
When most people praise a recent hospital admission they will regularly quote how amazing the Doctors and Nurses have been but what about the other staff??
I cannot deny the Doctors and Nurses in Bournemouth hospital especially on ward 15 and 16 have been amazing and have kept me alive on numerous occasions. However I would say from my own experience where I received my emotional support that helped me through the long bouts of admissions were the other members of staff! They reached me on a different level. The kindness they showed me spending a bit of time chatting and the relationships I built mainly lie with these sets of people: (I have had permission to post all these pictures last year)
Every morning this lady would chat to me ask me how I was, sometimes help me tidy up my area. When I was in isolation and was unable to leave the room, this lady asked me what I needed and went and acquired certain items for me. The cleaners become a regular in your hospital ward life and the brief chat and acknowledgment everyday means the world and helps you realise that you are still a ‘person’ and not alone.
- Health care assistants (HCAs)
I have noticed over the years I spend most of my time with HCAs and they have taken over a lot of jobs nurses used to do, because of the paperwork and time restraints. Seeing them regularly during observations or helping you wash builds up a level of trust. They give you the time and sometimes that kindness allows you to be open enough to get vulnerable and emotional. Don’t get me wrong nurses also do the same but sometimes they do not have enough time and other patients may need their help more, so I tend to open up more to other staff.
Porters are another department that really do keep the hospital ticking over! After many investigations I have met a few of these guys and they are fantastic, have a laugh and again go above and beyond their normal duties. Last year they filmed a video titled ‘porters’ which is very moving and encapsulates what the porters in Bournemouth hospital are like. Their sheer honesty is heart felt and the video is definitely worth a watch....www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOT4EjbOdKo
An important role where they hand out all the food, cups of teas and help patients order their food. These two have a very special place in my heart and have kept me going at times when I wanted to give up. The banter between these two is breathtaking and with their humour and caring nature touch every single patient who has been admitted on these wards. Their job is far more than just giving out the food and making cups of tea. The small kind gestures like remembering how I take my tea, offering me a biscuit and generally asking how I was. Again a regular face you see multiple times a day that is very comforting. In particular I need to mention how much this man helped me during my 3 months admission stuck in an isolation room when I contracted C.Diff after surgery. He made a laugh out of the smell and had me in bits laughing. That man helped me more than he will ever realise not so much physically but mentally and allowed me to find the fight in myself to keep going.
If you haven’t read it already So Bad Ass blogger, writer, health activist and public speaker wrote a brilliant post called Dear Tea Lady where Sam writes a letter thanking the Tea lady in Northern General Hospital for making her feel better every single day by just a smile and remembering how she likes her tea.
Now lucky for me (not them) I got to see this team usually at night out of hours due to my bad veins and cannula always tissued. They were so supportive in the dead of night and many times fought my corner to get a PICC line insertion after failed attempts of putting a cannula in. This lady used to make my day when I saw her and we used to have banter about the dread the team felt when they saw my name on the job list because my veins are that bad. When I have my PICC line I miss seeing these guys. I would just like to point out how much it means to me when a member of staff remembers my name and says “Rachel your not back again” The fact they have remembered your name means so much and makes admissions easier.
Most mornings the phlebotomists will take blood. They are usually super quick and you may only see them for a few minutes but seeing these guys nearly everyday again you build up a relationship. One lady in particular who works on the weekends, always goes above and beyond for me, this lady showed me love, compassion and always gave me a hug if I was struggling. That connection or a hand touching your hand when you feel broken is better than any words
- Bournemouth Hospital volunteers with the newspaper and food trolley
Again a regular during the week going around the wards asking patients if they need anything from the trolley. For some patients the newspaper allows them to have a bit of normality into their routine and this can really help patients state of mind.
I believe that these members of staff are the backbone of the NHS. They not only keep the hospitals ticking over with not much recognition. It is these people I tended to turn to when I was upset and emotional, they went above and beyond their roles and were there for me. Sometimes the doctors and nurses do not have enough time to deal with your emotional needs due to being extremely busy but I noticed that these members of staff come through, not just for me but I witnessed with other patients on the ward as well.
I got to witness firsthand how humour in hospital is extremely important. It helps you get through the dark lonely times and can be quite healing. Having a laugh and some banter is a medicine in itself which can help a patient still feel like a human being and reach that fight within themselves that can sometimes leave after a long admission. The staff are also very good at judging when it is appropriate to have a joke and when it is not but this allows some normality to your otherwise very ‘clinical’ and regimental day.
So from the bottom of my heart to all the departments mentioned I thank you for always being there for the odd chat, beaming smile, recognition, asking how I am and allowing me to laugh! You ARE the BACKBONE of the NHS and I am eternally grateful for every single one of you x