By Paula Erwin-Toth MSN, RN, CWOCN, CNS, FAAN
The signs of summer winding down are everywhere. Leaves are beginning to look 'tired', fall clothes fill the stores and 'back to school' ads are everywhere—to the chagrin of kids and joy of parents everywhere.
Mid-June hailed the annual Wound, Ostomy and Continence (WOC) Nurses Society conference. As much as I enjoy learning and interacting at interdisciplinary conferences there is something special about attending a conference with one’s peers. We share many of the same interests, challenges, struggles and joys of our profession. Many nurses attended the same WOC nursing education programs together so there is an element of it being a class reunion. The educational program was stimulating and thought-provoking. Sessions covered state of the art research and integrating evidence-based practice along with being proactive to address the financial implications of health care delivery in the present and future.
Patient Support Spotlight: The Scleroderma Foundation
Right now there is a lull in professional meetings until the fall, but patient support group meetings are in full swing. I was honored to present at the annual conference of the Scleroderma Foundation meeting in late July in Anaheim, California. I cannot begin to fully express how impressed I am with the courage, intelligence and fortitude of the people living with Scleroderma and their loved ones who support them through their journey with this challenging autoimmune disease. The professional presentations were enlightening and full of sound advice, direction and hope for the future through new scientific discoveries. The mind-body connection was emphasized in workshops relating to using yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques to help manage pain, improve flexibility and calm the mind.
A common theme in professional meetings has been focusing on the patient – it is sometimes labeled "patient-centered care", "patient-centric care" or "consumer-centric care". For those of us who are euphemistically called "seasoned" caregivers, meaning we have been health care providers for a long time (AKA old), we have seen many approaches, concepts, catchphrases and care engineering models that are supposed to revolutionize health care. Guess what? Effective and safe caregiving has always put the patient first. Patients have always assumed we put them first and many have found out the hard way that this hasn't always been the case.
Kindness is the Heart of Patient-Centered Care
I remember being chastised years ago by a supervisor for taking time delivering what he termed the "warm fuzzies". I was a salaried employee, saw all of my patients in a timely manner, served on committees and my productivity level was high. He saw "warm fuzzies" as a total waste of time. Guess what? Patient-centered care is all about "warm fuzzies." Our patients demand and deserve knowledgeable, skilled and caring health care professionals who provide care in an efficient, cost-effective and personalized manner.
Due to multiple birth defects I have often been on the receiving end of care. As a young adult I had a cancer scare and was facing yet another surgery. As the nurses and transport personnel were moving me from the bed to the gurney they were busy chatting away about a popular TV show they had seen the night before. I might just have well been have been a bag of rocks.
As I was being wheeled out of my room down to the operating room the housekeeper, an older woman bent over from years of hard work, gently touched my hand and said "Don't worry honey. Everything is going to be alright. We will be here waiting for you when you get back." I cannot being to convey to you how much her kindness and tender touch meant to me. I kept the memory of her gentle touch and her kind face in my mind as I was put under anesthesia. We cannot always cure, but we can always be kind.
About The Author
Paula Erwin-Toth has over 30 years of experience in wound, ostomy and continence care. She is a well-known author, lecturer and patient advocate who is dedicated to improving the care of people with wounds, ostomies and incontinence in the US and abroad.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.