"Nothing ever seemed to be too much trouble"
About: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary / Gynaecology Services Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Gynaecology Services AB25 2ZN
Posted by Onyx (as ),
My 85 year old Mum, who has been the primary carer for my 87 year old disabled father for the last 2 and a half years, was admitted to ward 309 in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, after having been treated for Irritable Bowel symptoms for a few weeks without improvement and suffering increasing levels of pain.
The following day, following tests and scans, she was given a terminal cancer diagnosis - ovarian cancer that had already spread thus making surgery impossible - but it was hoped, at that time, that getting her pain under control would allow her to come home under the care of Macmillan nurses and the local healthcare team and as soon as possible a biopsy would be undertaken to identify if any treatment options were possible. Over the following four days her medications were adjusted to try and find suitable levels to keep her pain-free, but on the fifth day additional complications set in. Although treatment of these were attempted, it rapidly became clear that they were not proving effective, and on day eight her treatment was switched to palliative care only. She died peacefully and pain-free ten days after diagnosis with me at her side. While all this was going on, in between visiting Mum in hospital, I had to step into the role of primary carer for my Dad at home in Inverurie.I write 'my story' to thank and praise all nursing staff, doctors and consultants involved in Mum's care over the ten day period. Her diagnosis was given to her in a gentle manner and the possible options clearly explained, with time for her to ask as many questions as she wanted. Nursing staff were always available and quickly present whenever she needed help or medication and always attended to her in a friendly, interested and unhurried way. Whenever I was on the ward with Mum, they were also happy to discuss her treatment and answer my questions. When Mum's condition deteriorated rapidly and I asked to speak to her Consultants, this was then arranged at a convenient time for me - taking into account my situation. The Consultant's were supportive, empathetic and willing to listen and take into account the wishes clearly stated in Mum's 'Living Will'. This allowed her to have the end of life care and death that she wanted. All this helped greatly in making an extremely difficult situation more bearable.
The above paragraph shows a level of nursing care that the majority of NHS users would expect. However, the staff of ward 309 went well beyond the 'call of duty' in the additional care and compassion they showed towards me and my father. Towards Mum's final days, Dad wanted to go and see Mum, but was concerned that he would 'break down' in front of other patients. The staff moved Mum into a single room to give him privacy in his final hours with her. When it became apparent that Mum's final hours were approaching, I spent a night in the hospital. Throughout the night, in addition to regularly checking on Mum and making her more comfortable - changing her position, washing and providing clothing changes - the staff regularly offered tea and food and when possible, sat with Mum to allow me short breaks. When I returned to the hospital the following day, Mum had been moved into a larger room and a reclining chair had been provided to give me more comfort if I had to spend another night there. Despite being obviously busy with other patients, nothing ever seemed to be too much trouble.
Having previously, as a family, had many bad experiences in other wards of ARI, this was such an unexpected change in ward culture. All those involved in Mum and our family's care showed a true understanding and practicing of 'nursing' and will never know the difference that their 'holistic' approach made to us. In times of such difficulties faced by the NHS, ward 309 should be commended and other wards could learn much from them. Their approach should be held up as an example of nursing at the highest level.