Clinical placements

Compassion in continence care

Helping a distressed patient with faecal incontinence reminded student Danielle Moxen about the importance of person-centred care, and reinforced her decision to become a nurse
Compassion.jpg

Helping a distressed patient with faecal incontinence reminded student Danielle Moxen about the importance of person-centred care, and reinforced her decision to become a nurse

I was on placement on a surgical ward in my second year of training when I helped to care for a patient, who I will call Peter, who had recently undergone surgery for a hernia repair.

Peter, who was in his seventies, was always smiling, and loved to chat with other patients and staff on the ward. He was a proud man and smartly-dressed. Due to a below-the-knee amputation on his right leg, Peter had reduced mobility, and when he had an episode of faecal incontinence and needed to go to the bathroom, he struggled to gather his toiletries together quickly.

He was becoming agitated and

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Helping a distressed patient with faecal incontinence reminded student Danielle Moxen about the importance of person-centred care, and reinforced her decision to become a nurse


Person-centred care is especially important when
patients are feeling vulnerable. Picture: iStock

I was on placement on a surgical ward in my second year of training when I helped to care for a patient, who I will call Peter, who had recently undergone surgery for a hernia repair. 

Peter, who was in his seventies, was always smiling, and loved to chat with other patients and staff on the ward. He was a proud man and smartly-dressed. Due to a below-the-knee amputation on his right leg, Peter had reduced mobility, and when he had an episode of faecal incontinence and needed to go to the bathroom, he struggled to gather his toiletries together quickly. 

He was becoming agitated and obviously needed help but seemed reluctant to ask, so I approached him and told him not to worry and that I was there to assist him. It was getting close to visiting time and Peter’s anxiety was increasing as visitors began to arrive on the ward. When we got to the bathroom he was so embarrassed by what had happened that he began to cry.

Making a difference 

I reassured him and explained that while he undressed, I would go and get the toiletries he needed, help him into the shower chair to wash himself, and get him a fresh hospital gown. After I had helped Peter to have a shower and put on some deodorant, I helped him dress and we made our way back to the ward, where he had visitors waiting to see him. 

I knew that Peter was grateful for my help but I was still surprised when, the following day, he gave me a box of biscuits that he had asked his wife to bring in. 

He explained that he appreciated all I had done for him, and how comfortable I had made him feel during what was one of the most horrendous moments of his life. He gave me the biscuits and thanked me for my kindness. 

This experience stayed with me throughout the rest of my placement, as it reminded me why I had chosen to become a nurse. I knew that I had made a difference to Peter’s life by helping him in his time of need, and he was discharged from the ward shortly after.

Being there to help

A few days later I came back from lunch to find a letter addressed to me. When I opened it, I saw it was from Peter, who had written kind words of appreciation and wished me well for my future nursing career. 

At the end of the letter he had written his former titles, including vice-president of a local hospital, former district councillor and justice of the peace. Peter had obviously had a distinguished career, and I’m sure he was not used to feeling as vulnerable as he did that day. 

The encounter with Peter reinforced my reasons for becoming a nurse. I want to be someone my patients can turn to knowing that I will be there to help them when they need it most. 


About the author

 

 

 

Danielle Moxen is a third year nursing student at the University of the West of Scotland 

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