You don’t care.

Next month Australians will be sent a voluntary postal ballot to vote on whether or not the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry.
This plebiscite is non-binding. If the majority of Australians vote yes, the government has committed to then allowing a private members bill to go before Parliament to decide the issue.
It is estimated the total cost of this process will be around 122 million dollars.

 

Here is poem that Nurse L wrote about Marriage equality from the perspective of a nurse who happens to be a lesbian…

Continue reading “You don’t care.”

Betty’s Death. 

Some time ago  we had a 98 yo lady (whom I will call Betty), transferred to our emergency department from a local nursing home. Betty was having palliative care at the nursing home and was well aware that she was soon going to die. 
Betty had completed an advance care directive (ACD) stating her wishes not to be resuscitated and that she did not wish to die in a hospital, but in her current environment.

She also stated that she would very much like to be able to listen to some Scottish music and in particular ‘Danny Boy’ at the time of her death.
Betty had awoken at 1am with frequent haemoptysis and severe abdominal pain, and despite her wishes and the ACD, the staff at the nursing home decided to call an ambulance.
I don’t know why this happened. Perhaps there was a mix-up with her directives, perhaps there were new staff on who did not know her plan, perhaps they did not feel confident managing her haemoptysis, perhaps they rang her doctor who told them to transport her.

Perhaps it was a combination of things. I don’t want to be judgmental, but I will say that it is my experience that this sort of thing happens far more than it should.

On arrival in our department Betty remained quite alert, and stated to our nurses that she knew she was about to die.

Following a conversation between Betty and our senior doctor, she was given some sedation and analgesia and our nurses made her as comfortable as they possibly could within the context of a busy, noisy, crazy, crowded, abrasive Friday night in the ED.

Oh….and something else happened that night amidst the crazy.

Something so simple and so wonderful, that it made the hairs stand on the back of my neck.

Two of our nurses had noted Betty’s request in her advance care directive.

One of them pulled out their iPhone, they down-loaded Danny Boy…. and then they played it to her as she died.
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A well oiled machine.

The following story is a guest post from Nurse Ruth.

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In the midst of the chaos someone calls to me “Ruth, slow down”.

I am kneeling on the edge of his bed, leaning over his body, with the palm of my hand pressed against his chest. His lifeless body flails as I push hard on his sternum. I am surrounded by a united force of professionals with a solitary goal: to restore his life.

This is tiring work. I have no breath to count out loud. I am listening as orders and requests are made, but I am focussed to the sound of just one voice. The one that keeps saying “charging…clear”!

I quickly relinquish my precarious position on the edge of the bed and lean back against the wall. My legs are shaking and my heart is racing, perhaps faster than his! An electric shock is effortlessly delivered to his quivering heart.

We wait. “No output, resume compressions”!
My break is over. I climb back on the bed and position my hand over the reddened area on his chest and push some more.
My I.D. badge bounces rhythmically against my body with every compression. It is annoying me and I am quickly getting tired. I feel the hand of my colleague on my back; it is her turn to take my place compressing his heart.

Minutes had passed like hours, and the time we started work is now yesterday.
He had been fine just 20 minutes ago when we joked about his snoring. Then our attention is called to the 4 corners of the ward.
I am supporting my patient who is sitting on the toilet simultaneously vomiting and defecating. Another nurse is administering an I.V. antibiotic.
Another is checking her patients’ vital observations.

The tone of your voice alerts me to the urgency of the situation you have just encountered. I instinctively grab some gloves from the dispenser on the wall. The alarm sounds and within minutes a dozen doctors and nurses are at his side. His lips are blue, and now the minutes pass like seconds. You are pounding on his chest and somehow briefing the incoming doctors of the preceding events.
This adrenal rush is better than coffee at the end of our ten-hour nightshift.

All other tasks are now deemed a low priority as we focus solely on him. Theories are considered whilst drugs are given.
His lifeless body is punctured with needles as blood sample are taken.
Again “Charging….clear”! “There’s a rhythm…it’s A.F.” “He’s got output”.

We step back and survey the situation. Who are all these people? They are the right people, in the right place, at the right time. They are all part of the well-oiled machine.

It is the end of our long night shift and we are looking a little battle weary. We have restored his heartbeat, but what about the rest of his body. What about the rest of his life. Someone has made the dreaded phone call to his wife to inform her of the ongoing crisis. This will not be a good day for her.

As nurses we learn to draw a line between the people we “care for” professionally and those we “care about and love” personally. It is time for us to make that distinction as we walk away from an extraordinary shift.
As I leave I ask a senior doctor what will happen next. The simple reply is “C.T. and I.C.U.”

 

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Building better nurses.  

What have the All Blacks Rugby union team got to do with improving our nursing culture?

Turns out….everything.
So hang in with me here…..

In an article published in Linkedin, Adam Daniel examined the leadership behind the All Blacks rugby team.

Back in 2004, something was wrong. The 2003 World Cup had gone badly, and by the start of the following year senior All Blacks were threatening to leave. Discipline was lacking with players drunk and disorderly and to make things worse….the All Blacks were losing.
In response, a new management team under Graham Henry began to rebuild the world’s most successful sporting team from the inside out. They wanted a fresh culture that placed emphasis on individual character and personal leadership.
Their mantra….. ‘BETTER PEOPLE MAKE BETTER ALL BLACKS’

It seems to me, many nurses are currently struggling within similar professional environments. Perhaps not so much of the drunk and disorderly, but yes in many areas our teams are really struggling.

We need to look at developing nurses as people and not just as nurses.

Although often unclear as to the actual root causes, hospital managers are well aware of the direct negative impacts on the quality of nursing care that poor team performance produces.

Following the mantra of PATIENT CENTRED care, senior hospital leaders send so-called ‘person-centred’ solutions and executive based clinical directives down the chain of command. By focusing primarily on the patients, and not also looking at its people, clinical care delivery may improve for a short time. But sustained improvement is difficult as the teams continue to struggle.

Dealing with its own shortfalls, the All Blacks team needed a complete paradigm change. They developed a Leadership Group who’s role was not top-down governance, but instead worked to develop its individuals, nurture its ethical standards, focus on the culture of its team, and to maintain the ‘integrity of the jersey’.

Leadership to SERVE the team, not to be SERVED by the team.

The All Blacks management recognised the importance of developing and nurturing its most precious resources in order to build champion teams.

Instead of obsessing on outcomes they focused on personal character development.

In Maori culture WHANAU means extended family, it’s symbol is a spearhead.
Every All Black follows the mantra ‘NO DICK HEADS’
The All Blacks management select on character as well as talent.
So a super promising player would never pull on a jersey if they are consider a dick head, their place in the team would be detrimental to the WHANAU.
The team has a mantra ‘CHAMPIONS DO MORE’
This means finding incremental ways to keep improving.

Imagine our nursing culture driven by a fostering of personal excellence within a context of an ‘extended family’ identity.

A collective intolerance of dick heads and celebration of nurses modelling cohesive teamwork built upon a strong individual ethical & moral compass. This, valued just as much as clinical competence.

A champion team attracting and inspiring new and future nurses.

Sound a bit wishy washy? Tell that to the All Blacks.

Better people make better LEADERS.
Leadership isn’t just about being the best in your field in terms of KNOWLEDGE and SKILL.
These attributes are important, yet what really is important is the way you are at HOME, out of the spotlight.

Are you balanced with work/ home life (always a juggling act).
Are you in harmony in your relationship?
Are you faithful and loyal with your energy?
Are you putting others before yourself?

The greatest expression of LOVE is SERVICE.
Real LEADERS make LEADERS of others….
Not FOLLOWERS…..
Real leaders are there to SERVE, not to be SERVED and have their followers gratify their ego’s.

Of all the professions we should have the qualities to excell at this . Yet, far too often, it seems we do not.

If we really are committed to improving our patient centred care we need managers willing to provide sustained resources dedicated to growing nurses as people and not just as nurses. At ALL levels.

Then we can really turn around some of our current clinical environments and produce champion teams delivering World Cup standards of care.


Reference: No Dick Heads. (n.d.). Retrieved November 6, 2015, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dick-heads-adam-daniel

Mrs M and the ANGRY stare.

The Scene.

Last night I was working as team leader in the emergency department.
It was a busy shift with multiple patients who were seriously unwell.

A 35 year old, Mrs M, had arrived several hours before. She had a complex medical history including mental health problems. She had been assessed, stabilised, and was now awaiting the allocation of an inpatient bed on the wards.

Continue reading “Mrs M and the ANGRY stare.”

The top 12 ways to frazzle a nurse.

Australian nurses have one of the highest rates of workers compensation claims for work related mental stress.

A small study in the Journal of Nursing Management looked to identify the top occupational stressors from the perspective of nurses working in a regional hospital.

Such causes of occupational (and personal) stress are associated with negative physical and psychological health, as well as increased incidence of depression, increased staff turnover, and high sick leave.

Continue reading “The top 12 ways to frazzle a nurse.”