I recently started a three month contract with St Wilfrid’s Hospice as a Communications Assistant and to gain an understanding of the work that some of the other staff undertake, I was asked to shadow a lovely nurse called Sue for the day.
When I was first told I would be shadowing a nurse, I felt slightly apprehensive and unsure of what I would be required to do. I was also unsure about how emotional I would find the day. However I needn’t have worried, Sue immediately made me feel at ease and I realised I had nothing to worry about.
Our first patient was a lovely lady who needed some assistance with personal care. I watched as Sue helped her to wash and brush her teeth and hair. Sue was very kind and gentle with the patient and gave her a lot of time and attention – it really was lovely to see how much she cared. We then changed her bedding and got her comfortable again.
At this point the fire alarm went off! Sue made sure her patient was comfortable in bed then explained we had to leave the building and that she was not to worry - it was more than likely a test. We quickly opened the privacy screen and shut her door behind us. We waited outside the building for the roll call and the fire brigade to arrive. Once we were given the all clear, we returned to our patient to make sure she was OK.
The next patient we saw was a gentleman who again needed assistance with personal care. Firstly we changed his bedding whilst he was waiting for the shower, then when it was ready, we got everything organised for him in the bathroom. Sue helped the gentleman into the shower room and helped him undress, always making sure he was comfortable and safe.
When he had finished showering we returned to his room where we left him to dress himself as per his request. Sue explained that it is very important to respect the patient’s independence and let them do as much for themselves as they feel they want to. During this time we went back to the shower room to clean the area.
After we had finished the daily jobs Sue had to go to the office to write up detailed notes about each of the patients including their physical and emotional state.
During my day with Sue one of the patients who had sadly died, had to be moved into ‘The Blue Room’. All the available staff went round and closed the other patient’s privacy screens on their doors and asked family members who were around to move to another part of the building for a short time. Screens were placed at each end of the corridor and were manned by staff to stop people from coming through. The patient was then quickly moved form their room into The Blue Room without any fuss. I was surprised at how efficient and very dignified this process was.
I must say the whole time I spent with Sue was an absolute pleasure and it really opened my eyes as to how busy the role is and how flexible and adaptable the nurses need to be at a moment’s notice. The nurses here truly care about their patients and it shows. The patients were relaxed, comfortable and very well looked after - I feel very lucky to have experienced such a special place.