Handling complaints: what I never learnt as a waitress

I have never been good at receiving complaints. Before I started my nursing degree, I worked as a waitress for 5 years. It was not uncommon to deal with customer complaints on a daily basis, and I would always just say “I’m really sorry about that. I’ll speak to my manager” which was always a fail safe. 98% of the time, the customer didn’t want to speak to me anyway!

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Accurate picture of me listening to customer complaints

But that changed when I started my nursing. Suddenly, whilst trying to make small talk with patients, I was being confronted with complaints about care they had received in the past or at that very moment. I couldn’t get away with my usual spiel because care complaints are more specific, more personal. You have to say something, and sorry doesn’t quite cut it.

I remember, very vividly, the first time I saw a nurse deal with a complaint efficiently. The patient in question was raising her concerns about the referral system for district nurse visits after a stay in hospital. Her care had been delayed due to this. The nurse I was working with listened to her very carefully, occasionally (when appropriate) asked for more detail and did not seem flustered at all. She then thanked the patient, said she would follow this up but urged her to voice her complaint at PALS.

PALS stands for Patient Advice and Liaison Service. It is confidential, and designed to provide support for patients, relatives and carers.

I was amazed at how calmly the whole situation went. Although the patient was upset initially, she was clearly at ease by the end of the visit, and I felt it was due to her being able to voice her opinion. And she was actively encouraged to talk about her concerns as Image result for complaintsit helps the NHS grow as an organisation! And it inspired me!

Since this event, I feel as though I have been inundated with patient complaints. Sometimes I feel as if there is a secret sign on my head that says please voice your thoughts at me!. I have now had endless practice at being calm and friendly, with some situations leading to me having to be a little firm (I will not be shouted at). I find that listening a lot, speaking barely at all, seems to work. Asking them to expand, answering questions when needed, and most importantly not denying their claims. It is extremely important, I think, to acknowledge that not every care interaction is perfect or goes to plan. We must embrace feedback, negative or not! Whether it comes from a staff member, a patient or a relative; complaints should be listened to!

Always speak to your mentor or a staff member about a patient’s complaints. 

The joy of community nursing

Community is often painted as marmite- you either love it or you hate it. But is that strictly true? Surely there is something about every placement that can be enjoyable, and not so enjoyable!  I will first admit that my heart lies in community. I knew within the first few days of my placement in first year that I wanted to work in the community. So I thought I’d make a little list about why it’s just so amazing. 

You have to expect the unexpected! You aren’t in the relatively controlled environment of the hospital, you’re in a patient’s home/room. Anything can happen, even trying to stop the pet dog from jumping on the bed during catheterisation!

It really is community based nursing. No matter what area you work in, you’ll know the people, their attitudes and the roads like the back of your hand. It’s really refreshing to be moving around constantly instead of endlessly walking around a ward or clinic.

Improvisation is key! Can’t find the correct wound dressing? Come across a new skin tear? Can’t access the patient’s house? Better make it up! I’ve seen some amazingly ingenious solutions which I’ve then stored in case I ever come across it again. It’s one of the best ways of learning!

Community nurses can be a lifeline. Many patients you will visit in the community are elderly, some of which are very isolated from society due to mobility issues, lack of family or the fact that they live in rural locations. Often, community nurses are the only people they interact with in the day, and they appreciate their presence immensely!

The patient-nurse relationship is very different! As soon as you enter someone’s home, you are entering their territory and you follow their rules. I feel that this allows patients to have a larger role in care decision-making. It is what holistic nursing is all about.

Community nursing is not for everyone, but never underestimate it’s ability to build up your skills!

If you’ve had a community placement, and you’re feeling creative, why not write us a blog post? Simply send us an email at enhancingplacement@gmail.com. We always welcome new content!

Antenatal parent education- does it have a place in modern society?

ctmI adore parentcraft, why? Because I adore discussing the subject I love so very much. I love talking to women, their partners, their families about something which to them is unknown and very very scary.

Parentcraft is a funny thing! Some midwives adore it others can’t think of anything worse than “preaching” in front of a group of perspective parents.

It saddens me the lack of funding and hours the NHS invests into parent education. Year after year, maternity reports publish how important antenatal education is in facilitating positive mother and baby outcomes.  How discussing stages of labour, mode of delivery, pain relief, postnatal care and infant feeding to name a few are absolutely vital to achieving positive outcomes.

This week I was lucky enough to look after a lovely couple I had met in my parent craft classes.  Half way through her labour she told me how much she loved parentcraft and how informative it had been!! She recited aspects of the sessions I had spoken about including the stages of labour and the amazing oxytonic affects produced by feeling supported, loved in labour! I felt such a sense of achievement that the sessions had really helped the couple and I went on to deliver their beautiful baby girl!!!

I believe there is a place in today’s society for parent education but midwives must evolve and adapt in order to engage the audience. Nowadays information we all need is just a click away on an app or a search engine. But nothing beats a positive engaging face to face session.

I certainly won’t be shying away!!! I can not wait to get stuck into antenatal education when I qualify!! Spreading the word of the wonderful physiology of pregnancy, childbirth, infant feeding and much much more!!!!

 

 

Mysterious midwife? Vs obstetric nurse

So at the end of this week I will have finished my nine week community placement and I am absolutely gutted! 😩

Community to me IS midwifery- community encompasses the entire midwifery continuum. From booking to postpartum the community midwife is highly skilled in all areas of midwifery. For those who are unaware of what a community midwife does an average day from personal experience is a full antenatal clinic dealing with a wide range of medical, social issues, recognising safeguarding problems- including domestic violence, mental health problems, poverty amongst many many more.

Postnatal home visits, parent education, meetings with multidisciplinary agencies, phone calls from colleagues, anxious women, the hospital…. the list goes on!!!!!!!

One of the most beautiful amazing things we get to advocate in community is homebirth. Indeed research tells us that giving birth in the comfort of your own home with your family, partner, home comforts round you increases oxytocin- the hormone of love, childbirth, bonding and feeding which will therefore lead to positive outcomes. Of course some women are not suitable and we throughly risk assess all women in our care at booking to determine plan of care for delivery, providing the woman with the most upto date evidence based practice.

Of late, being an avid tweeter I have become increasingly alarmed by a small but growing consensus of people who believe midwifery has no place in contemporary society. These people believe it to be an ideology, a fantasy, a dream concept. I was very disturbed to read one post attacking midwives for our quest to promote normal birth as being for our own selfish gains. Believing that promotion of normal birth, home delivery to be nothing more than a ridiculous ideology that no longer features in a medicalised world.

This is the very reason why I feel midwifery is not just underrepresented but STILL in 2017 the average joes’ knowledge of childbirth and maternity is so poor that it is very easy to whip up so much negative hype- particularly on the back of terrible tragedies such as morecombe bay.

Why is childbirth seen as such a mysterious entity??? Why compared to most industrialised countries do we have abysmal breastfeeding rates?

Who do we blame for the increasing trend towards the medicalisation of child birth and the entire maternity care package?

Its somewhat of a wicked problem but all I know is the role of the midwife is to show care and compassion, to recognise deviations from the norm and REFER!!, promote normal pregnancy and labour. To be a midwife you need to care, care about the woman you are looking after, the baby in utero. Our strive for normality in childbirth proves how much we care! We want the very best outcome for the gorgeous ladies and babies we look after.

So please help spread the word-……..Midwifery is a vocation not a cult!!!!

What can nursing give to me?

Becoming a student nurse can consume you. With placement and academic work mixed together, it can often feel like all you do is nursing! On top of that, we often focus on what you can do for nursing. But what about what nursing can offer for you?

Recently, I’ve opened my eyes and seen the reciprocity within nursing. It started with my Nursing Therapeutic module, where we’ve been learning about Muetzels model who says that a therapeutic relationship between a patient and their nurse requires three components. These include: partnership, intimacy and reciprocity. Since we explored how a therapeutic relationship could benefit both the patient and the nurse, I thought maybe nurses get more out of their career choice than I thought?

Confidence! Going into placement takes guts. You are literally throwing yourself into new situations with new people everyday, and that takes a certain amount of confidence. Speaking to the wider MDT use to fill me with dread, but now I basically chasing them around for questions. This has reflected into my personal confidence A LOT. I am more sure of myself, and what I want to get out of situations.

unknown-2Time management. I thought I was organised before I came to uni. I was wrong. I feel I’ve reached a higher-level, as uni has forced me to gain the ability to spread out my work so I’m not over-exerting myself. It’s a VERY good skill, as it’s very easy to become burnt out. Spreading out work helps you fit in the other important stuff that isn’t necessarily related to nursing/uni but is absolutely vital! Get yourself a fab diary and a calendar life will become easier.

Problem-solving. I recently attended an inter-professional workshop with our lovely midwives all about the health needs of refugees. Once we were put into teams, it was like somnurses and midwiveseone lit a spark! Suddenly, adult nurses + midwives + child nurses + mental health nurses were able to outline all these potential solutions to the fictional family we were ‘caring for’. We were more than able to use our combined knowledge to solve the situation with ease!

Honesty. Before uni, I would often be told to do something at work/school and just nod endlessly until they told me to go and do it. What would happen? I would have literally no idea what I was meant to be doing. You can’t really do that in nursing, so you end up asking more questions and understanding where you need support. This not only shows honesty, but it shows a lot of maturity as well.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but its great to reflect back on how you’ve grown. I would urge any of you to do the same! Not only is it a useful skill for interviews, but it really helps with realising why this degree is so worth it.

What has nursing given to you? Comment, tell us on facebook/twitter or send us an email!

An Interview with Ian Wilson – Mental Health Lecturer

word-cloud-ianIan Wilson, Honourary Teaching Fellow in the Mental Health Field has given us an early christmas present in the form of this amazing, honest interview about his specialist field – Mental Health, specifically discussing his work in the community with dually diagnosed service users (those with mental health and substance misuse diagnoses). This is a truly insightful piece with some wonderful tips and advice for all fields of Nursing.

ENJOY!!…

 

What do you enjoy most about working in the community?

I enjoy the autonomy of community work. I enjoy being truly collaborative with my service users and colleagues. I enjoy the flexibility and responsiveness that community work offers workers and their clients. I enjoy the equalization of the ‘power balance’ between professionals and service users that community work offers.

What do you enjoy most about working with the university?

Regular contact with students is undoubtedly the most rewarding part of my university job. I welcome the enthusiasm, creativity, professionalism and dedication to mental health nursing that I see students frequently displaying. Because of this student contact I am reassured about the future of my profession and reassured about the future of mental health services.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Mental Health Nurses today?

I believe that we MUST maintain and nurture our own professional identity as mental health nurses. We have a unique perspective and a unique therapeutic trust. Both of these things are a huge privilege. We must ensure that this is not diluted.

Even as Student Nurses we can sometimes neglect our own mental health, especially with dissertations looming, what advice would you give students struggling with university stress?

I manage my own stress through regular exercise. I also have a group of friends who I can trust. Some of them are nurses, most of them aren’t. I have different groups of friends for different aspects of my life; my ‘football’ friends; my ‘music’ friends; my ‘work’ friends; friends I’ve known for 40 years or more, friends who have only recently entered my life. I rely on them all for support and encouragement.

How has your role as a Mental health Nurse changed since you registered?

I commenced my career as an inpatient staff nurse (two years). I then moved into community mental health nursing and I’ve done that for 20 + years. During that time my roles have changed and my responsibilities have increased. However, my core values have changed surprisingly little. I would still recognize myself from 25 years ago!

What qualities make a great Mental Health Nurse?

Empathy, unconditional positive regard, honesty, therapeutic optimism, positivity, self-reflection, a genuine interest in other people’s lives, open mindedness, a sense of humour, resilience, resourcefulness, self-reliance.

What made you choose to work with those suffering from drug and alcohol misuse?

I have both personal and professional reasons for working with dually-diagnosed (both mental health & substance misuse) service users. Additionally, I find service users with ‘dual’ problems resourceful, resilient, insightful and challenging. This keeps me going!

f3766f876d143ea85bd35fb7b63cabaf731c5493-3-1.jpgWhat piece of advice would you give Mental Health Student Nurses today?

Take every opportunity that comes your way to promote non-stigmatising attitudes towards mental health service users. Promote acceptance and respect among your colleagues. Use evidence based practice wherever possible. Have confidence to stand up against poor practice whenever you encounter it. Always push to improve services and your own skills and knowledge as a nurse.

From your experience working with service users who smoke cannabis, have you seen a therapeutic effect from taking it as a method of self-medicating and not just for recreational use?

Yes. For instance, a man with bi-polar illness has been using cannabis to regulate his mood. He has been actively attempting to reduce his cannabis use but as soon as he starts to reduce, he experiences a relapse into distressing elevated mood. His answer to this currently is to attempt to grow his own cannabis, which, he hopes, will be high in cannabidiols (anti-psychotic and sedating) rather than high in THC (very psychosis inducing). He is proving to be partially successful. However, in my experience this is unusual. Most of the service users I’ve worked with for many years do not get a good therapeutic effect from cannabis. Quite the opposite in fact. For almost all service users with psychotic illnesses cannabis can be a disaster for their mental health prognosis.

What impact do you think there would be on mental health services if cannabis was to be decriminalised or legalised in the UK?

Taking cannabis misuse out of the legal system and into the healthcare system would enable those people who have problems with cannabis misuse to seek appropriate help and treatment. It would also remove it from the control of organized crime.

From your experience what role does excessive alcohol consumption play in the development of mental health disorders?

This is a complex and multi-dimensional issue. Demographically, 50% of people entering alcohol treatment services have a severe depressive illness. 20% of people have a psychotic disorder (Weaver et al 2003). Whether this is a consequence of drinking excessively, or whether drinking excessively is a causative factor in the development of illnesses is, of course, usually too complex to fully determine.

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Legal Highs come in all sorts of forms and can be bought on the high street

With the rise of “legal highs” and previously uncommon substances of abuse (such as ketamine) in Greater Manchester, has their been a notable shift in conditions patients suffer with as the popular drugs of choice have changed?

I believe that there is now no doubt that many of the newer substances, such as synthetic cannabinoids and highly potent stimulants such as PMA and methadrone are potentially far more dangerous to both physical and mental health. Synthetic cannabinoids, especially, appear to be very dangerous and unpredictable. However, their use, among mental health service users and people in general seems to be increasing year by year.

If you could give child/adult field nurses a few key points to convey to patients they may encounter that they believe might be struggling with drug or alcohol abuse what would they be?

  • Be honest but non-judgmental about peoples’ lifestyle choices
  • Encourage service users to discuss issues of substance misuse in an open and honest manner
  • Listen to what they tell you and find ways of reflecting back what they’ve said
  • Express empathy about their situation in relation to substance misuse. Be especially empathic about the difficulty their substance misuse is causing them and how it may be preventing them to achieve their goals
  • Seek permission to offer information which is neutral, up-to-date, and presented in an accessible form. Check out carefully what they make of this information
  • If they don’t want to change their current patterns of substance misuse, carry on discussing the issue in an open and honest manner, avoid arguing or persuading; offer harm reduction tips
  • Keep the door open to possible intervention in the future

A moment of CALM: de-stress with new wellbeing workshops for student nurses and midwives

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It’s well known that in order to properly care for others, we must first take care of ourselves. I’m sure many of us have shared that advice with our friends, family, patients or their carers, yet how good are we at following it ourselves?

As the term progresses and the list of assignments builds up, it is tempting to put our health and wellbeing on the back burner. There are so many competing demands, especially as many of us juggle uni work with part-time jobs, family commitments or other personal issues. It can be overwhelming at times: every student nurse I have spoken to has felt the pressure at one time or another, yet you can often end up feeling quite isolated, thinking ‘is it just me?’ Believe me, it’s not.

Don’t fear – help is at hand! After feedback from previous students, a brand new project has been set up to support students throughout the year. CALM has been designed been designed specifically for student nurses and midwives, aimed at tackling some of the regular issues we might face during the course.

On offer is a four week Mindfulness course starting this afternoon which will give an introduction to mindfulness and share techniques to cope with anxiety and stress. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment, switching off from the endless distractions and learning to calmly accept the emotions and thoughts that fill our minds. Over the four weeks you will be given an introduction to acceptance and be taught some simple stress-busting tips including how to carry out a body scan and breathing exercises. You will also learn how to recognise stress cycle and ways to build mindfulness into your everyday routine.

On top of that are drop-in sessions on money management, for practical tips on how to make your bursary and student loan go further, and a session on housing for anyone who wants advice on finding accommodation that fits our hectic schedules. A series of free sport and fitness classes are also in the works, so watch this space!

meditation-1000062_960_720Starting this afternoon, the Mindfulness course will run every Wednesday for the next four weeks between 1-2pm and there are a couple of one-off money management and housing sessions planned for the rest of this semester. You can book a place on any of the sessions here or contact Eve Foster at sso.intern@manchester.ac.uk – and if you’re interested in the Mindfulness course, it’s fine if you can’t make the first session today.

Don’t forget that the university also offer a fantastic counselling service and a massive range of wellbeing and relaxation courses, from daily meditation sessions to longer courses on low mood and self esteem. There are also plenty of online resources and apps like Headspace that can help you unwind and de-stress.

You don’t have to become a incense-burning zen master to build mindfulness into your everyday life. Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe says in this TED talk that we only need to spend 10 minutes doing absolutely nothing to feel the transformative effects of mindfulness.

So kick back, switch off and just breath.