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Jane Bates: Staff shortages means we lose chances for compassion

A distressed patient went without comfort due to lack of nurses, remembers Jane Bates. Fortunately, there is now an eye clinic liaison officer

A distressed patient went without comfort due to lack of nurses, remembers Jane Bates. Fortunately, there is now an eye clinic liaison officer


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Staff shortages. Will the issue ever be taken seriously by those with the power to act?

I would love to enlighten them about the effect it has at micro-level because it doesn’t just mean fewer opportunities for staff training. Nor is it only about nurses never having breaks, or Mrs Bloggs in bed three failing to get her medication on time. 

It is situations like this. 

An older patient, who had suddenly and totally lost his vision after a cerebrovascular accident, was weeping copiously with shock and grief and there was no one to comfort him.

Every time we had a free moment, we were pulled away in the opposite direction to something urgent. Here was a person in acute mental pain in a crowded hospital, with no nurse or healthcare assistant available to support him.  

Yes, he was ‘safe’ – he was too frightened to move – but for someone to be alone at such a time was appalling.

The ECLO

This is why I am such a fervent fan of the eye clinic liaison officer (ECLO). The ECLO offers both emotional and practical support to those struggling with impaired vision, and for those reeling from the distress of a no-hope prognosis.

An ECLO is independent so can concentrate fully on the patient without myriad other demands in myriad other directions. They are usually clinic-based but are also available to support patients on the wards, depending on workload.

The unfamiliar surroundings mean people with poor sight usually dread hospital admission more than most. The ECLO can provide encouragement, practical ideas and alert staff to the difficulties these patients encounter.

Sight loss is so utterly devastating it is akin to a major bereavement, especially when sudden, as with our older patient. If only we had had our ECLO in place back then. 


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire
 
 
 
 
 

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