The first day was emotional and thought-provoking. The video about the family whose young child died was particularly emotional. To a certain extent, I had always accepted that if a loved one were in the hospital I would need to be with them or arrange for someone else to be with them to keep them safe. I had also assumed that if I were with them or someone else was with them, they would be safe.
This family was taking the actions that I have always thought of as the security blanket or insurance- the things that would just make absolutely sure that a loved one was safe while receiving care. They were advocating for their child, asking for help, and had knowledge of the healthcare system and this still happened to them. This story made me think about how much more challenging and risky it is for patients who don’t speak English as a first language, who may be experiencing a mental illness, or who don’t have a support system for advocacy and helping to hear and interpret all of the information they receive.
I found myself frequently shifting roles and perspectives throughout the day. I considered myself as the patient, as the parent of the patient, and as the caregiver. The complexities of human interaction are significant and the skill and art of communication is one in which we can always improve. As a nurse, I was reminded that I need to listen to what is being said, but also what is not being said, and to ask more questions. Communication is always more difficult when a person is sick, stressed, or in pain, as many patients are when they are seeking care. It could be that all the person is able to do in that moment is raise on alarm bell and say that something isn’t right. Even when a patient or a patient’s parent can’t articulate what is wrong, they need to be heard and taken seriously.