I found myself admitted to the Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) last week. The LRI is part of the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL-tr). I was in pain. I really was in a lot of pain. I have previously BLOGGED about Pain (see previous PAIN BLOG). I was in so much pain I wasn't eating and drinking and was becoming really rather dehydrated as a result.
To be in pain is awful. It is wretched. It is hateful; excruciating and all-consuming. It is fair to say that it is terribly unpleasant. It hurts. It just fucking hurts; it hurts every-fucking-where. I was in pain and I was dehydrated. I was dehydrated because I hadn't drunk enough to take my pain medication; I hadn't drunk enough because I was in pain. It is a vicious circle. It is a vicious circle that needs to be controlled. A vicious circle that needs to be stopped, that has to be broken, and for me the best way to achieve this and to break the cycle is the stop the pain.
The MS Trust quote reports that it is suggested that "up to 80% of people with MS experience pain at some stage." So, after some too-ing and fro-ing and lost notes and juggling of beds and hanging around and taking blood samples they decided that they were keeping me in and I was being sent from the 'Acute Medical Unit' in the Balmoral Building, where I had initially been assessed, to Ward24 in the Windsor Building. Ward24 is largely but not exclusively a Neurological Medical Ward. On Ward24 I was treated with both care and respect and dignity and compassion and empathy by the various nurses and healthcare assistants and hospital personnel.
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust promote its value which is to practice 'caring at its best'; and while my visit wasn't faultless and there were a couple of minor issues regarding clear communication and management of patient expectations; the standard of care I received was impeccable, and while I don't like to name names as inevitably you forget someone and have to later go back and include them; it really would be churlish of me not to lavish at least a little praise firstly and fore mostly upon Carol WARD and Liz GALVIN; but also upon Sophia PATEL and Dawn WILLIAMS who all went above and beyond to ensure that my stay was absolutely as comfortable as possible. And I must say Thank You to Ann TOVEY with whom I shared a room and who was very good natured and friendly, who didn't snore and who lent me her shampoo.
NHS England drafted a Vision and Strategy in December 2012. 'Compassion in Practice: Nursing, Midwifery and Care Staff - Our Vision and Strategy'. This Vision and Strategy recognises that "To be a nurse, a midwife or member of care staff is an extraordinary role." Which it certainly is. It also stated that "Our draft vision was underpinned by six fundamental values: care, compassion, competence,communication, courage and commitment." The Nurses and Auxiliaries and Care Staff on Ward24 demonstrated all six of these fundamental values, and are indeed a credit to Ward24, to LRI, to UHL-tr, and to the NHS.
The staff ensured I was hydrated with water (Liz) and tea (Carol) - a very high priority and very much appreciated. They explained all the buttons of how to operate the moving bed which kept me entertained for a while (Yes! I am easily amused) and a million little things that they did that made me feel that my care was a priority to them, and that nothing that I asked was too much trouble. There are others, many others that I should thank, representatives from Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy (I'm not sure which) who were incredibly helpful, but especially Kareena BASSAN the Physiotherapist who sorted me out a pair of matching crutches, which was marvellous and who spent the time assessing me with them and ensuring that I was able to use them with confidence.
I know people complain about Hospital Food, and complain about the quality of the food provided in hospitals. But I have to say I have always thought that it would be a logistical nightmare of a task to provide good quality nutritious food of a variety that caters for personal dietary needs and particular types of food like Kosha, Halal, Vegetarian, and Vegan to a whole hospital full of people on time. To provide food that is nutritious, tasty and appetising; food of a suitable variety and choice to meet religious, cultural and/or dietary needs to a huge number of people at a specified time is no mean feat. And at a cost too as there are strict budgetary considerations. So, I am really rather reasonably impressed. The food that I had was OK, and I had a choice of fresh fruit.
The catering staff were always cheerful and friendly whilst being busy and engaged in the operation of the delivery of food choices, and I especially looked forward to Balvinder Kaur DHADER delivering my juice, tea, toast and a banana each morning for breakfast. Thank You.
In August 2014 new Hospital Food Rules were introduced which highlights the expectation for the hospital to provide a higher standard of food under the new measures announced by the Secretary of State for Health (Jeremy HUNT). Although the 'Campaign for Better Hospital Food' said that the proposed changes were 'woefully inadequate'. TV Chef James Martin of 'Ready Steady Cook' and 'Saturday Kitchen' fame has embarked upon a mission to transform the standard of the nation's hospital food (Operation Hospital Food) with some positive results. As I said not an easily task to be the food provider, so I am very thankful for what I received.
And then, my tremendous thanks go to the Neurologists and Neurology Team, especially to Dr. Critchley who it is noted looked especially dapper in his Bow-Tie; who conducted his rounds with professionalism, understanding and good humour, which is amazing considering he has the unenviable task of trying to diagnose and find out what is wrong, when MS is widely known as the 'snowflake disease' i.e. no two are the same and it must be like trying to 'understand the understandable' and 'diagnose the un-diagnosable'. Good Job Dr. C.
So, my HUGE thanks to the wonderful staff of UHL-tr (NHS) of the LRI and of Ward24 for caring and looking after me. Your efforts were very much appreciated. I do hope that I don't see you again soon, but it is reassuring, incredibly reassuring to know that should I should be required to make a return to the LRI, to know that it is staffed by such lovely caring and hard-working staff who do a tremendous job to ensure that their patients are as comfortable as possible and are well looked after.
Thank You. You do a great job, and you do make a difference, the world of difference, more than you know.