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Opinions of Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Columnist: Susan Agyenyiwaa Aidoo

See the sick as human not some object that needs fixing

I have so many times seen and heard people argue lividly about harsh treatment they encounter especially when they visit our various health facilities.

Sometimes violence breaks out which is extreme and sometimes the nurses especially are berated and attacked in the process.

Often it is the nurse who the patient/client and relatives sees most within the 24hours, hence, whenever something goes bad it’s the nurse because we are the pivot in health delivery.

I am tempted to believe that the slightest mistake that occurs in our various hospitals, the question often asked is, where was/is the nurse? Nurses have their role to play in ensuring that the patient/client receive healthcare. In fact, when you are admitted, it’s the nurse who will ensure that you are cared for from your personal hygiene to elimination (serving of bedpan) and that is no joke a work.

Interestingly, some patients and relatives even the general public are of the opinion that just because of the lack of jobs hence the frustrated ones venture into nursing for their survival, which to some extent can be true, and some extent false.

Truthfully, at the end of the day, so long as you decide to be a nurse, you have no right to be hostile to the one seeking health care! I do believe before some people choose a profession, there is a desire or some motivation to want that career. I don’t believe that nursing is a calling or passion only. If it is a passion only, there wouldn't be the need and even strike if not paid or picket at the Ministry Of Health if posting is delayed. Yes, in every profession you shall definitely get those who are driven by passion and those because of whatever reason deem fit to them, not only in nursing. Nursing is both passion and professionalism. Truth be told, there are some people, no matter what, would pursue nursing, that is passion right there.

There are others who see it as a means to an end too. Let us act as professionals with passion.

Professionalism and passion comes with certain characteristics, and that is being genuine but not blunt, kind, caring, empathetic, good listener, smart but not shoddy etc. I hear some nurses say “why do you have to insult me”, “you don’t respect “, and “the patient / relative did this and that so I reacted”. The list goes on and on. Yes to every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction but do we as nurses always have to react to some undeserving behaviour from patients and their relatives? Are we fighting, why this behaviour? I understand the stressful nature of this profession, sometimes we are pushed and we react to the situation.

But before we react to the situation, can we at least breathe, take a second look at that human in pain? Life has a way of turning all of us into something we never thought we are or can be. We so much want to be respected for the service we render which is not for free, but we cannot retaliate violence with violence and expect respect as a reward, sad. People set standards for others they themselves cannot live half of those standards. The people we give this care to do not expect us to react when they go off us, which I find that hard to comprehend but there’s a way out.

Interestingly, irrespective being strangers at the health facilities, people do generally expect nurses to be doing something in clinical settings. In fact, People generally expect nurses to have a plan and also for that plan to be related to some of the problems that they are experiencing. Fortunately we can choose which role we have to play as professionals, thus the ‘rescuer role’, not ‘persecutor role'.

Rescuers see people as in need of rescuing. Nurses have a tendency to want to help people in distress and nurse them into recovery if possible. Sadly people are not some broken machine that we can easily fix. We need to develop the skill of neutrality towards hostility and not have the expectations to fix our patients when they may not ‘mend’.

Even though we may speak different language, or may have different rules governing us, or possess different cultural values, everyone gives much the same answer. Everyone expects their beloved to be treated as a person: a unique, special, distinctive human being. No one I have met is comfortable with the idea of their loved one becoming a ‘patient’.

Instead, we all want the health team whoever they are, from whatever discipline, to recognise and respect the individuality- and difference- of their relative. Despite our ethnic, racial, cultural and social differences, people are very much alike ‘under the skin'.

We want to be respected as nurses right? Let’s respect our patients see them as humans first and they shall give us our place.

We need to clarify what exactly our professional values are if we are ever to escape the lunatic bureaucracy that bedevils all our talk about ‘ patients’ and their need for one health care or another, when perhaps what the person needs is human helping. What we would want and expect for our loved one’s may be simple but apparently not all that easy to give.

Then the question I ask myself is, what is my value? My value represent what I consider most important in life that is, respect for all race, gender, religion and tolerance.

To work with a person who is experiencing some problem of human Living rather than a patient with some illness, disease or disorder, we need to be modest, as well as respectful. We need to recognise that we know nothing of any real significance about this person, and what worries them. Humility is a key item of caring. Don’t forget, being humble doesn’t mean you are stupid or stooge. Let us be assertive when we think we have been violated in our line of duty by following the health care policy in addressing issues of abuse, rather than retaliating.

Notwithstanding, the reality of human experience and behaviour is that our needs are often subjects to dramatic change and not static.

Sometimes we are like this and other times we are like that. The changeable nature of our experience – of ourselves, of others, and the world in general determines that a person’s need at any point in time are also subject to change. Although nurses are people, a key professional practice is to become aware of how differing personal, social and cultural characteristics might influence our professional decision making and our relations with the person who is the patient or client.

Nursing is patience. Nursing is caring. Nursing is, "I don’t have to know you to care for you to help you recover". Remember, recovery is not in the absence of symptoms. Death is inevitable. I am happy death lives amongst us, because, even in our mist, the way we treat people, I wonder, if death was not with mankind, how we will treat people who no fault of theirs but are in dire need of rescuing.

Can we act human and treat the people who come to us for rescuing as humans but not ‘diseases’ but human?

Life is short, beautiful but sometimes comes with pain. Tomorrow is a gift, life is a gift. Be honoured that humans come to you to help in nursing them when sickness knocks on their door. Nursing is a privilege to you not your right. Let’s be kind. Let’s be humane and help restore some sanity in the hospital as nurses.