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Patients will remember the way you make them feel

Patients will remember the way you make them feel

Ann Maree Keenan, Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer and Deputy CEO, Safer Care Victoria Photograph by Chris Hopkins

Your words to patients, their families and your colleagues may be forgotten but they will remember how you made them feel, the chief nurse and midwifery officer told nurses and midwives.

Speaking at the Australian Nurses and Midwives Conference, Ann Maree Keenan, who is also the Deputy CEO of Safer Care Victoria, recounted a story of a patient she knew, a 53-year-old woman called Jenny who was dying of a rare degenerative disorder.

Ms Keenan said the way Jenny’s nursing team had cared for her was ‘truly inspirational’. Jenny was in a surgical ward, not palliative care, yet the team had music playing and put up photos of the family and all the things that were important to them.

‘When I left that ward that reinforced for me why we start out being nurses and midwives,’ Ms Keenan said. ‘It’s about how we make people feel.’

Ms Keenan quoted writer Maya Angelou: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

She said it was no different with colleagues and we also need to reflect on our behaviour with others in the workplace.

Care improvements

Ms Keenan said nurses and midwives were at the forefront of care improvements around Victoria. For example, a clinical nurse consultant in Numurkah who advocated for her patient to use telehealth for consultations with a Melbourne-based surgeon, saved the patient a six hour trip.

However the Grattan Institute report ‘All complications should count’ showed there is still vast room for improvement in reducing complications. One in nine people admitted to an Australian hospital developed a complication; one in four if they stayed overnight. Complications include pressure injuries, hospital-acquired infections and serious sentinel events (causing death or serious harm to patients).

As well as the incalculable cost to patients, complications cost the Australian public health system $4 billion per year.

Focus on sentinel events

Safer Care Victoria was focused on improvements to sentinel events. Private hospitals are now held to the same safety and quality standards as public hospitals and have to report sentinel events.

Reporting of sentinel events in Victorian hospitals has increased from 17 in 2016-17 to 124 in 2017­-18, which indicated that a culture of transparency was developing, Ms Keenan said.

Feeling busy? Consider these statistics

Ms Keenan provided some key statistics about the quantity of care being provided in Victoria:

  • In 2017, public hospitals had delivered 1.75 million episodes of care in emergency departments and more than 1600 life-saving organ transplants.
  • In public and private hospitals nearly 80,000 babies were born
  • Three million patients had received care.

Safer Care Victoria projects

Safer Care Victoria was established as the peak state authority for leading quality and safety improvement in healthcare in 2017. Its projects include:

  • Increased consumer participation in their healthcare – ending ‘pyjama paralysis’.
  • Reducing preventable stillbirths
  • Sepsis assessment and management in emergency departments
  • Recognition and response for palliative care – timely referral to palliative care services
  • Third and fourth degree perineal tears – aiming for a 20 per cent reduction
  • Referring stroke patients with mood disorders for assessment
  • Clinical guidance around anaphylaxis (for patients to be able to keep their epi pens with them)
  • Screening for, preventing and managing delirium

Visit Safer Care Victoria for more details.