"Compassion and caring and how Ward 5 got it so right."

About: Wishaw General Hospital / General Medicine

(as a relative),

It's only 24 hours since my beloved dad died and the tears are obviously never far away, but it keeps coming into my mind how our personal nightmare was made just that bit easier by the compassion, care and support we received from the staff who cared for him. My dad has had a very chequered medical history, including dementia which always made us anxious when he was in the care of unfamiliar staff, but we found that in the week he was in Wishaw General, every aspect of his care was of the highest standard and my family at all times were involved and consulted. The staff took time to ask what his normal patterns were to allow them to compare and try to gauge his progress. Just the way they asked what were his normal eating habits were and was he able to eat or drink independently reassured me that they were paying attention to the fact that he wasn't eating or drinking anything for them and that this was significant to his condition as normally he has a hearty appetite and a very sweet tooth!

Unfortunately his condition did not improve and my sister and mum met with the doctor on Tuesday morning. I wasn't able to be present, but my sister speaks very highly of the way Dr Cram explained the options to them - he helped them to understand the situation without them feeling pressured into any course of action and supported them through a very difficult decision to stop treatment.

The next 24 hours were as you can imagine very difficult for us, but throughout the hours we sat with him, the staff made sure that he was kept comfortable and that we too were considered and supported. What might sound like little touches like making sure he was turned, had morphine when he seemed to be becoming distressed and a clean sheet all made me feel that he was so totally respected and cared about, not just for - and you have no idea how those things helped us.

All staff were equally supportive, but there were two nurses I'd like to particularly thank. I'm sorry I didn't take in your names, but I hope you get the message. The Irish nurse on night duty, your gentle manner and kindness in caring not just for my dad but for all of us was so appreciated, including the teas and coffees and moral support. Even although we were in the room, you were still watching over him and pre-empting any request we might have made, you didn't wait for us to ask for "things". You noticed him and what was happening and did what needed to be done without ever making us feel like we were in the way.

And to the nurse who phoned me in the morning after we'd gone for a short break to let me know dad was deteriorating, your compassion when I arrived just too late and the hug that managed to keep me standing for that couple of minutes till I got into the room meant so much. Her reassurance that someone had been with him, that he had been peaceful and again another massive "little touch" was the vase of flowers on the side and the book open at the lord is my shepherd page on the beside locker gave me comfort while I waited for the rest of the family to return. That hour you left me on my own with him before the rest of the family got there, offering me coffee (accepted) and the anything else (not accepted, but equally reassuring to know it was there if I did need it) meant the world to me. I had time to privately say my goodbyes.

The reassurance that we could stay as long as we wanted meant that we could go at our own pace and never felt for a moment that we were being rushed. We got to spend time starting to come to terms with our loss and I'm sure in the weeks to come we'll be ever more grateful for having our first steps on this journey supported by such a compassionate and caring team. Many, many thanks to you all. xxx

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Responses

Response from Gillian Corbett, Chief of Nursing Services, Wishaw General Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire

picture of Gillian Corbett

Dear Micqj5,

So sorry to read about the passing of your dad, please accept my sincere condolences. Thank you for sharing your experience at such an early and difficult phase of your grieving process. I was touched to read your account of your dad’s last few days, made bearable by the contribution of the nursing and medical team.

I will ensure Senior Charge Nurse Williamson, Dr Cram and the team in Ward 5 receive your feedback. Supporting patients and families at the end of life is extremely important to us and a fundamental part of our profession.

Technology and medical advances often take over, when as you describe it is all the small things we do or don’t do that are most important, thank you for reminding us of how important they are.

My thoughts are with you and your family at this difficult time,

Kind Regards,

Gillian

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