A different view.
My journey into the renal world happened suddenly a few years ago when I was admitted and commenced on urgent haemodialysis following a sudden realisation and the awful truth that my kidneys had failed. It wasn’t that hospitals frightened me. I was no stranger to being in that kind of environment as I had worked as an Ophthalmic Sister for a number of years. The fear was because I had little understanding of the disease and the impact it was to have on my body over the coming years. When I was admitted I soon began to realise that I no longer was that person making decisions, but the person who had the decisions made for them. I felt a loss of control over my body and my life.
I soon became used to been woken up by the clanging of the breakfast trolley, patient call bells, and other patients crying out, amongst other things. I quickly began to feel like the ‘unpopular patient’ that I had studied in nursing school. I didn’t want to get out of bed, walk around and eat at times. The staff thought my reluctance to get out of bed was that either I was depressed or just being awkward, and whilst some of the former was true, the simple matter was that the bedside chairs were just to damned uncomfortable to sit in for any length of time. On one occasion an old lady in her confusion attempted to get in the wrong bed, mine, on her way back to bed.
I was in a bed on a long Florence Nightingale ward where I could see the many positives of hospital life, but also the many negatives. During my long stay I witnessed a lady falling on the floor and returned to bed without having any observations completed. Patients being served meals and not been able to reach or cut the food, and a nurse doing dressings without washing her hands between patients. Don’t get me wrong, I have also perceived many excellent standards of care over the years and I am extremely grateful to the staff for their care and support. I would like to say a special thanks to the RDU of CMFT and the Community Dialysis nurses for their support.
During the many admissions I have had I have also at times been given the wrong medication, awoken to be given sleeping tablets, been admitted with severe hypertension and not received regular BP obs and a number of other incidents. My advice to other patients is be vigilant and get to know your medication and listen to your body, if you don’t already. It is your treatment. All NHS trusts are accountable for their actions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge anything if you feel it is incorrect or unusual.
I was also somewhat puzzled by the renal diet that at times consisted of processed meat, sausage casserole, tomato and cheese sandwiches, ladles full of custard and lashings of milk on cereal. I guess like everything it all boils down to cost, if you pardon the pun.
All I can say is that some staff should spend some time ‘on the other side’ of care to gain an insight into the life as a patient. However, I somehow think there won’t be many volunteers.
Bye for now.
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
Unfortunately PALS is no longer available online due to lack of funding.