I have spent a lot of time in hospital on the wards, it adds up to months and months of my life and in that time, I have seen a lot. Mostly good stuff, but some things that set my teeth on edge! I love our NHS, we are so lucky to have one of the best health care systems in the world that is free at the point of use. Our NHS is run on nurses, wonderful, brilliant, hard working nurses, as well as a whole plethora of support staff, doctors and surgeons who work together to give us outstanding care.
I know it goes wrong sometimes, I have had the odd bad experience with nurses and doctors and that’s not ok. But you know what is really bloody wrong? The amount of crap nurses have to put up with from some patients, and so I thought I would give you my guide to avoid being the patient everyone dislikes, how to not be the one who sets the staff’s teeth on edge, how to not be a dick patient in hospital.
It’s a simple one, but oh, so important. I know you may be in pain, frightened, at your lowest ebb, but manners cost nothing. Say please and thank you. People are doing things for you, therefore you should thank them for their time and effort. Need a bed pan? Don’t demand, ask nicely. Has a member of support staff just cleaned your shit up? Say thank you!
You aren’t more important than anyone else
Your illness is important to you, but your pain and suffering is no more or less important than anyone else on the ward. Your needs will be prioritised by someone in the know. Don’t assume you should get attention above others. I have seen it a million times when a patient calls your nurse away from you. Wait your turn!
If you are laid in bed and unable to do anything for yourself then no matter how much money is in your bank or how important your job is, you are at the bottom of the food chain, so be humble and grateful to those around you. That woman mopping the floor is currently lapping you, so thank her. The man making you a cup of tea is beating you in the ‘being able to get out of bed, go to work and make tea’ status, so smile and be grateful.
Don’t be a dick
I know you may be in pain and feeling terrible, you are probably scared and shaken, but don’t be a dick about it. The staff know it is hard being a patient and want to do everything to make you comfortable, they don’t deserve to be shouted at, mocked or abused. I have heard patients loudly comment about nurse and support staff’s weight, appearance and sexuality. Not cool. Not cool at all.
Speak up, don’t scream out
If you are struggling, speak up. But don’t scream out. It can be frustrating and anger inducing to be in hospital, but don’t lay this at the feet of the people caring for you. They are at work and doing their job, they are human and don’t deserve to be a verbal punching bag for you.
Respect is a two way street, I have seen patients scream at nurses, call them names and then whinge that they aren’t liked and everyone ignores them. The people caring for you are doing a tough job, give them credit for caring for you for little more than the living wage.
Think of your fellow patients
You may be at your lowest point, but it’s likely that so are the other 7 people on your ward, so think of them too. Keep the noise down, smile at them, don’t be nosy about their private medical needs. “So, what you had done?” is never really an ok question in my books. If people want to talk about themselves they will, don’t pry.
If it’s good, say so…
If you are receiving great care, then say so, thank the person, tell them how much of a difference they are making to you. If you feel a certain person has made your life so much easier, then let them know. My nursing friends tell me that even in their worst nightmares of shifts, the praise and gratitude of one patient can make it all better.
So much is put on the behaviour and attitude of NHS staff, and rightly so. They should have to behave in a way that is respectful, caring and professional, but us patients have our role too and we need to think of others even in our own greatest time of need.