Seeing the care our nurses provide at first hand

I have been thinking about how to understand our nursing service since I started as Chief Executive in August. And it seemed to me that shadowing one of our nurses would be a good place to begin. 

So just before Christmas I was privileged to spend part of a shift at a patient’s house in Surbiton. It was very generous of both the nurse and the patient and his family to allow me to do so. Not everyone would want the CEO sitting watching you work for part of the night or even day!

Finding the house in a poorly lit road was my first challenge – house numbers, if they exist, are impossible to see at night. The patient’s son saw me in the car and invited me in just as our nurse arrived. She knows the family well, having been caring for this man for many months. With a cup of tea, and an update on how he was, his wife went through his medicines. He had been very agitated at times in the past – literally up and down throughout the night – and although this had improved, partly as he was less mobile, his wife said she would not be able to cope without Marie Curie’s help.

We quietly went into what had been the family sitting room until he became so ill. With a hospital bed and all sorts of equipment it was not a place to relax in front of the TV anymore. Our nurse checked him over and soothed him to sleep many times in the few hours I was with her. I felt helpless but could fetch glasses of water for him and cups of tea for us. Some of it reminded me of when my children were babies – willing them to settle, listening to their breathing to hear it become the regular breathing of sleep. But for our patient those moments were fleeting and I left our nurse holding his hand and soothing him again.