Village Voice: March 2020

Let us not become weary in doing good

Human nature can be fascinating and complicated at times, some people naturally think kindness is something completely selfless that we do out of love and compassion for our fellow humans, while others instinctively believe that someone being kind to them is just a manipulative tool that people use to trick others to reap the benefits.

Retirement living, Nursing and Health Care workers usually fall into the first category and choose our industry because much of what we do each day is motivated by a desire to care and serve others. Working in a role that inherently requires kindness and enables a person to make a difference in the lives of others, encourages staff to develop positive feelings about work which fuels genuine job satisfaction and long-term staff retention.

Balancing the needs and choices of the more than a thousand of people who receive our services every day can be quite difficult and at times present a real challenge in meeting everyone’s expectations and our own desire to do a good job, care and serve. It can be even more difficult when a person is unhappy and the cause is out of our control.

I recall as a final year student nurse being loudly and aggressively yelled at by a patient who didn’t like the bitter percolated coffee provided on the morning tea round by the catering staff. It was the early 90’s, nurse-to-patient ratios were not mandated, most major hospitals were in budget crisis and 6 acutely ill patients to manage on my own as a student was considered a pretty easy shift. I didn’t have anything to do with preparing or delivering the coffee, in fact I didn’t even have “good coffee for patients” on my radar of critical things I needed to get through on my nursing shift. I had a ward of 6 patients to complete vital signs observations on, medicate, attend to wound dressings, get up with the aid of various frames and devices to move each of them in turn in and out of the single shared ward bathroom to get showered, dressed etc. The bitterness level of the morning tea coffee was not part of my sphere of influence, yet still I found myself apologising for it, looking for extra sugar sachets and trying to work out how to appease the angry patient, settle the rest of the patients on my ward that were now upset at seeing and hearing me being yelled at and when this was sorted still find time to get my actual nursing work done… It was my first real experience of what unfortunately has become common place in society where frontline staff receive blame and sometimes abuse about issues that have nothing to do with their work, role or capacity to influence.

Over the last few months, a number of staff have been confronted by residents, family members or community clients “vigorously” expressing their views on a particular matter that is not within the staff member’s control. Whilst the concern may be real, it is unacceptable to have an encounter with a staff member (or anyone) that leaves them feeling threatened, denigrated, in tears or feel that they have failed in meeting the requirements of their job. Please remember our staff really want to do a great job and feel good about the difference they are making, inevitably sometimes things will go wrong or break down that are out of our control and we do our very best to resolve them as quickly and as best we can. We don’t always get everything right, but we do always go into every situation with a genuine desire to do good.

Til next month, Kim Jackson Executive Manager