I recently read an article by a nurse that lost her husband suddenly and tragically. He was in a bicycle accident which resulted in him being in ICU for 10 days on life support and the wife had to make the decision t take him off life support in the end. Prior to this he was healthy and vibrant.
The wife apparently taught or at least presented about A Culture of Health in which people live life to the fullest without too much pain and suffering. After this life change where she sat in an ICU for all of those days, she then knew that more was needed by patients and families than just the physical care that she says she had no doubt about. She said that he was well cared for physically, but more was needed.
She said that she needed some compassion and care by the nurses and staff during this time. She felt alone and abandoned at times. The nurses were so busy checking tubes and monitors and providing good physical care that they did not have the time to recognize what she was going through or if they did she did not receive that care.
That brings to mind what my nephew and his wife went through a year ago after their 12 year old son suffered a sudden and tragic accident while shooting hoops at a friends house. The ball hit a board that was leaning against the wall in a garage and fell and hit him in the right side of his head. The board had a hook on it which went into his head and caused some brain damage. They rushed him to a childrens hospital about 50miles away by ambulance and took him to surgery immediately that night. He was on a ventilator for about a week after this and eventually weaned off. To make a long story short he recovered and went home, but does still have some deficiets to this day and maybe always will.
Anyway his mother never left his side. She was there night and day. It was torture for her even with all of the family and friend support that she got. The nurses provided good physical care and were always there whenever a machine alarmed. However, there was very little emotional support provided by them for the mother or father. She, too, felt abandoned and alone a lot of the time, especially during the night when family and friends were not around.
Another example that hit close to home was when my mother had to go to a nursing home when we could no longer care for her at home. She had fractured her hip and she had alzheimers disease which was pretty far progressed when she broke her hip. She did not know me some of the time and she could not even feed herself anymore. She had had extensive physical therapy, so she could walk a little with help, but for the most part the staff had given up on her and didn’t really bother.
One of the things that bothered me most was that they did not even care what she had been like before or what her likes and dislikes were. It was as if she had never had a life and now she was seen as nobody or nothing. She was just a shell. They took care of her physically, but that was all. They hated me bacause I would not give up on her so of course they gave me no support. I felt alone and abandoned. There was no compassion for either my mother or for me as the family.
What if someone had taken time in all of these cases to put himself in the place of the family members. Hopefully they would have come to understand what the person is going through. If they had empathized with the family maybe they would have had some compassion for the person. That would have made a world of difference. It would have certainly helped the family member to cope and to give to the patient as well. It is very difficult to function when you feel totally alone and abandoned.
In order for this to happen facilities need to make it possible for the nurse to give the compassion that one needs at times like these. Most nurses go into nursing because they want to give this to patients and families, but if they are overworked and stressed by the way things are where they work, they can not do it. If this is not possible then the patient suffers.
This, again, brings me to the conclusion that perhaps if nurses have other interests that make them happy they would be less stressed and more able to be compassionate to the patient and family. There is a lot of stress placed on nurses in their daily care of patients and little is done by the facility to alleviate this. This means that the nurse has to find her own ways of dealing with the stress so she can be more empathetic.
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