Monday, 3 June 2019

It only takes one ...

Last week I had surgery. I was cared for by some wonderful people. Its a ward I have been on multiple times and had multiple surgeries. The housekeeper remembers I don't take milk, the nurses ask me how my course is going and the HCAs joke that theres a bed with my name on it. Its a busy unit, but 99% of the staff on there are absolutely fantastic. They uphold all the values of my trust and are a credit to the profession. So what is it, 10 days later at nearly midnight I find myself crying about how I was treated by one member of staff? 

I remember as a HCA years ago being upset that after everything we had done for a patient, the letter we got from the family was one of complaint. Most of the complaint was directed at a couple of members of staff, but still it stung. Now though, as a patient myself I can see how your mind becomes consumed with the feelings of dissatisfaction toward one member of staff. The incident happened in front of my husband, which I am really glad of as actually with my anxiety if I had been alone I would have convinced myself that I was in the wrong.

It was less than 24 hours since my surgery and the nurses were pretty run off their feet. The HCA, lets call her Brenda, was asked to come and ask me if I wanted help with a wash. I heard her huffing about it outside the bay which didn't set a good impression to start with! i didn't actually want help with a wash, I was pretty embarrassed to be fair, and with a PCA Line, a catheter, a drip and a drain I wasn't really in a position to do much for myself. 

I asked my husband if he could help me, and asked Brenda to get me a bowl of water and a clean gown. She again huffed and said "Aren't you wearing your own clothes" which, I had planned to, but with the catheter and the drain still in (last time I had no drain and my catheter came out the next morning) there was no way I could get my Pjs on! 

I then put my hand on the drip stand to move it out of the way for me to stand up and she snapped "Don't hold on to that!" I felt like a child being told off. Not once did she show any warmth, and I was feeling very vulnerable. It was such a horrible situation to be in, and I am so glad that Tom was there. It has really given me a massive appreciation to how scared patients must feel, especially if this is their first time in hospital. 

I don't think that I have ever been as cold as Brenda was to me that morning, however I am sure that at times I have not taken into account how something that is an everyday task to me could be something that could make a patient feel so out of their comfort zone. I shared this feedback on the wards comment cards and I hope that Brenda takes it on board.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope that it either affirms that you are taking as many steps as possible to ensure your patients feel safe and cared for, or just reminds you what its like to be on the other side.

Charlotte Lucy


  1. I'm so sorry you had such an awful experience. Honestly, some of these nurses and HCAs seem to be in the wrong profession - why care for people, when you don't seem to like people?! I've had so many 'nightmare nurses' during my various hospital stays and I really do empathise because it turns an already difficult experience into something absolutely awful. Sending hugs your way  ♥ How are you doing after your surgery? I hope you're able to rest enough & that your recovery goes as smoothly as possible.
    Caz xx

  2. I had a very similar experience after major back surgery a few years ago.....and I didn't tell them that i had been a ward sister. It was only when one of my old students, byt this time an A&E charge nurse visited and called me Sister that they realised. The nursing care from several members of staff was appalling - I was left on a commode in the night with a drip and drain and the curtains weren't drawn around my bed. It was so degrading.......this makes me ashamed to have been a nurse. I really hope that you are doing well now and over the trauma, Claire x


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