Patient view

‘Inclusive attitude to carers made me feel part of the team’

Geraldine Strohm explains how the carer support initiatives introduced by nurse award winner Jodie Deards helped her during her father’s stay in hospital

Geraldine Strohm explains how the carer support initiatives introduced by nurse award winner Jodie Deards helped her during her father’s stay in hospital


Commitment to Carers award winner Jodie Deards, centre, ‘made a horrific situation bearable’. Picture: Barney Newman

The changes implemented by carers lead Jodie Deards made a huge and positive impact on both my father’s recovery and my experiences caring for and visiting him on the ward.

My father Geoffrey, who lives with dementia, became ill at home very suddenly and was rushed to The Lister Hospital in Stevenage with pneumonia and septicaemia. He was dangerously ill and it looked unlikely he would recover.

Dramatic improvements

When I learned that Dad was being transferred to the ward, I was even more concerned. Years before, my mum had been on the same ward, and the experience had been far from pleasant. She was not helped to the toilet (a task I had to tackle while heavily pregnant) and the ward felt understaffed, so she was left without care for prolonged periods. I was dreading a repeat of this experience.

However, from the moment I arrived on the ward, I could see dramatic improvements had been made. There was a big sign telling me how important the hospital felt carers were to a patient’s recovery. I was approached with a smile, and it was explained to me how valuable carers are to the healing and condition management process. I was given a badge stating that I was a carer, which made me feel like a part of the team tasked with helping Dad to recover, rather than an unnecessary burden, someone in the way.

Consulted

In the past, I had been made to feel like an intruder, without a valid opinion. This time, I was consulted about Dad’s medication, his medical history and his treatment plan.

I was amazed to get help with parking costs, and was offered and encouraged to have a nutritious snack bag. Those small gestures meant so much to me, as all thoughts of personal care went out of the window while I was trying to help keep Dad alive.

Another simple but crucial difference was the removal of restrictions on visiting times. I was invited to stay over for several nights, which I did, spending hours just trying to make Dad keep on his oxygen mask. I came and went as necessary, but at all hours of the day and night I was treated as an important piece of the care jigsaw.

What a positive experience Jodie and her team created for me, and other carers told me they felt the same. The combination of simple measures she has introduced made a horrific situation bearable.

Jodie Deards, of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, won the Commitment to Carers category at the RCNi Nurse Awards 2017 


For more on award-winner Jodie click here

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs