There is a phrase “going around” that takes the impact of what it’s like to be an elderly person without support and this derogatory term totally dehumanises a very human situation. Talking about humans as processes instead of shouting out loud that caring does not start and begin in a hospital is like saying that once a person reaches 70 nobody really cares about them. The roots of care, compassion and indeed humanity itself are intertwined into community , family life and neighbourhoods. Love and care begin at birth when the impact of instinctual kindness and love from one’s own mother is portrayed immediately at the moment of arrival by her display of emotions, indescribable craving and total need to hold her newborn child. It is my quest that every midwife, obstetrician and in fact anyone who is privileged to be there when a child is born knows this and thinks about it every second before birth occurs and is instrumental I helping to facilitate it or shout out when it doesn’t seem to be .
NOW I’d like you to imagine that you are a senior NHS manager questioning your clinical leaders about how to address the problem of “bed blockers” you are driven and you don’t tolerate excuses . Suddenly fast forward your own life – you are 79 years old and living alone . Your family live just far enough away from you to prevent a daily visit . You are isolated and feel depressed so gradually without any realisation of it , you stop looking after yourself . Your home becomes as uncared for as you are and then you fall . The reason for your fall is that you didn’t like the new slippers your granddaughter bought you for Christmas they were too much like shoes. You therefore continue to wear your old worn ones and on this particular day as you descend your steep unsafe-for-a-79-year-old stairs, your slippers “tread free” soles slip on the edge of a stair – suddenly you’re in flight mode. Your hip dislocates and your femur breaks – time to realise after your operation and recovery in a rehabilitation centre that you can’t get home. Mainly due to the fact that your family are away for a few days in France and social services have deemed your house as unfit for you to move back into . One particular day you are “sat out” in a chair behind some curtains and you overhear a Dr and an occupational therapist talking – your name is used and that familiar term “bed blocker” Is mentioned. The words ring in your ears from when you used to say them about others and now you are one.
Did you know when ambulance crews take patients to accident and emergency that they have to wait and cannot leave their charge until the care is taken over by the hospital team. I know this because last year I worked with an ambulance team for a day . We were transferring a woman to another hospital & I was the escort midwife – once in another zone the ambulance was recognised on the radar and unable to leave each time a 999 call was made . It was like being in another galaxy unable to return to our own a sort of NHS antithesis to Brigadoon. So if SEVEN ambulance crews arrive at a particular Accident and Emergency department all waiting to handover the care of their patients -SEVEN ambulances are simultaneously off the road-what’s to be done about this?
A few months ago I realised I was digressing from my ” #skinToSkin” work and asked a friend what I should do . Political issues were starting to interest me more , I felt more aware of care for people living with dementia . I had started reading about how mental health issues are addressed and pigeon holed. Nick Chinn taught me about silos and I realised that the NHS works in silos. My friends reply was “keep going Jenny – as a NHS Midwife you have a duty to be political so that you can tell others about the day you spent with the ambulance crew, why skin to skin matters to society and is a public health issue . To be frank I’d be more worried if you said you felt apolitical”
So my friends let’s keep going and let’s keep championing good care , outing systems that don’t put the patient and/or family at the heart of what we do – one day that “bed blocker” might just be you .
Thank you for reading please feel free to leave comments – your input helps me to reflect and develop as a midwife , mother and human .