Back to the floor - 2b or not to be?

Actually it was 2B - which is one of our neurosurgical wards at Royal Preston Hospital – and where I did a late shift on the 2nd October as a Health Care Assistant.

I arrived at 1.30 to be welcomed by the team and to have the handover, which was really comprehensive. Julie McLean the ward manager led the session and it was a great way of getting short, diverse bits of information across to people in a really quick time. It covered everything from the need to have an appraisal date in the diary, the results of the Friends and Family test and sharing the actual comments made by patients (which, by the way, were fabulous for 2B!), to who was in charge of checking the resuscitation trolley. We held the meeting in a large airy roomy bright corridor …yes I’m joking …it was of course very narrow, cramped and staff had to negotiate the chicane to get to other parts of the ward! Then it was off for a patient handover by the bedside of each patient. The team leader spoke to each patient before advising the rest of the team about the important clinical bits, tests needed, blood results, discharge plans and pretty much everything in-between. I loved it! The patients felt included and part of the plan so they loved it too! I hope we do this on all our wards.

Karen Partington and the staff from Ward 2b

Poor staff nurse Bharesh Maru (Bas)  drew the short straw and got me for the afternoon. I think my blank stare gave him the answer he needed when he asked me if I could remember how to do observations and fill in neuro charts so following a very comprehensive teaching session he left me in charge of the observations in the bay. He came back 25 minutes later to see that I had done the grand total of two patients. Wasn’t my fault I was chatting to them was it?! Apparently our nurses and HCAs can do two full bays AND talk to patients in less time than it took me to do mine! I’ll get faster – promise!

Later I helped to bed bath a young man who didn’t look as though he’d cleaned his teeth since admission and when asked he said he didn’t want to …..the mum in me took over and let’s just say he had a whiter smile and fresher breath 20 minutes later! He did say he felt better and thanked me although I’m not sure the experience was repeated for the rest of his stay!

Just before evening meal Janine Millington, Health Care Assistant supreme, and I bed-bathed four lovely gentlemen all with varying degrees of need and ability. Janine was fantastic with them; her skills at making them feel at ease while providing very personal care with privacy and dignity seemed to come naturally as did her ability to tell me what she expected me to do! If I am ever in the position that some of those patients found themselves in I hope I have a ‘Janine’ to look after me.

All the staff I came into contact with were simply superb, professional in their approach, frantically busy yet lots of smiles and welcoming faces for patients and their relatives. It must make such a difference because, let’s be honest, being admitted to a neurosurgical ward for some of the procedures our brilliant surgeons do must be terribly frightening at times. What really surprised me was the age-range of patients with an extraordinary number of multiple comorbidities. There were a number of times when I truly had to swallow a lump in my throat particularly seeing young people with life limiting conditions just a few years older than my own sons. The stories and faces of those young people remain with me and it is an enormous credit to our ward staff that they can deal with such emotional issues day in day out and still come to work every day with an upbeat attitude.

The environment on 2b is quite interesting with two bays of four beds each and two side wards that are really big and bright and cheerful but then you step into the old part of the ward and it’s like going back in time! In the old part there is so little space for anything and the curtains that we pull to maintain patient privacy and dignity just about have enough space to squeeze between the beds. I noticed that lots of hooks are missing on the curtains because they are so heavy to pull round they drop off the rails. I also noticed that many of our patients who are confined to bed have nothing to look at out of the window – it must be terribly depressing at times to only see the sky. The space in the old bays is cramped, they look old-fashioned and tired. I know we are looking at a neurosciences development for the future but in the meantime we need to review what we can do to help our nurses working in these conditions in the meantime.

What are the things I'm going to look at and try to improve?

I’ll be working with the facilities and services team to see how we can increase the space in each bay, create a garden to give patients something more interesting to look at, and sort out the curtain tracks.

To everyone on duty that afternoon - a sincere thank you for being so kind and welcoming to me.

Karen Partington