One of the other girls (women) in my class asked me this the other day:
"Should we bring up the poor standard of care we are seeing on the general wards with our tutor?"
It was kind of an aside, not really a question for me, but a question she was asking herself. We've all just started our general nursing placements, and we've all seen things that have made us uncomfortable, here is a partial list:
- nurses ignoring the call bells
- incontinent patients left without being changed for hours and hours
- cursory bedbaths
- patients' mobility not being a priority - eg use of commodes by bedside instead of helping patients walk to toilets.
- no help with feeding, or drinking for quieter patients.
There's more, but I don't want to depress you. Then yesterday the Care Quality Commission report came out, revealing that this low quality of care is totally par for the course in the NHS at the moment.
The nurses are constantly complaining, not only about lack of resources and the impact of cuts (large numbers of imminent bed closures for example) but also about the bizarre priorities of hospital management, who are busy organising expensive and pointless internal ward moves, and obsessing about foundation trust status. (Honestly, at times it's just like Holby City, (with all of thecynicism and backbiting but none of the hot doctors).
Nurses seem to spend 80%+ of their time filling in documentation, while the healthcare assistants do all the actual, physical nursing work, ie bedbaths, turning bedbound patients, helping with toileting, feeding, and hydration etc.
And lastly, not not leastly, as midwives, we are all about women-focused care, working in partnership, communication. On the general wards, we are seeing very poor or no communication, patronising tone, talking over people, no confidentiality.
So is it our job to blow the whistle on the nurses who are our mentors, for the poor standards of care they are living with? After all, their morale is already at rock bottom. And the Care Quality Commission has already lifted the lid.
I don't know what to tell my friend, I can't answer her question, she has to figure it out for herself.
But I do know that I don't want to get sucked into the system and start believing that the care we are providing to the elderly is all that they deserve.