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Using the Power of Story to Improve Patient-Centred Care
"What struck me was how they used all of the skills we have, both science and caring, to help Dad and to help me navigate my role as a daughter."I am a nurse, something I have loved doing for the last 22 years. I know how difficult the job is and I am fully aware of how hard all health care providers work and how taxing, emotionally and physically, our jobs can be. I am also the daughter of now elderly parents who are entering the sunset years of their lives. I understand the processes that their bodies and minds are going through, but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch, nor am I any less emotional than any other daughter in the same situation.
Not too long ago, Dad was admitted to hospital with severe pneumonia. I was with him and fortunately was able to provide a fairly detailed assessment to the team at the hospital regarding his condition. They knew I was a nurse and listened intently to my assessment. They also made it clear that I needed to be Dad’s daughter in that moment and not a nurse. The entire health care team, the nurses in particular, were gentle and kind with my Dad. They talked him through procedures, pokes and jabs. He laughed with them, talked to them and came to know each one, and they him.
What struck me was how they used all of the skills we have, both science and caring, to help Dad and to help me navigate my role as a daughter. No one ever overtly told me to ‘get out’ but they were firm yet kind when they reminded me that I could take a break from my engrained nursing role and just hold my Dad’s hand. One nurse in particular said to me that while she knows we don’t stop being nurses when our personal lives start, that the best thing for my Dad at that time was to just love him as a daughter would, and to take care of my Mom who was scared and worried. She reminded me in the kindest way possible that they were taking of him and me. It was tough love, no one likes to be told they’re not needed, but it was the right thing to say to me because in that moment I was not nurse but rather daughter.
It was a pleasure to watch the nurses care for my Dad, who recovered from his pneumonia. I also want to thank them for answering my questions and for reminding me that while we all carry nursing in our hearts and minds, we can put that aside and allow our capable colleagues to do their jobs when one of our own loved ones needs care.