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'It's too easy to forget the simple things that make a big difference'

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28 May, 2012

Looking out of my window at the garden on a lovely sunny day reminds me of my Dad. He loved the summer, sitting in the back garden with my Mum.

I remember the last summer he was alive. His walking had deteriorated and his Parkinson’s and chest problems were catching up with him.

We got him out in the garden and he sat under the blackberry brambles catching the branches with the hook of his walking stick so my two boys could pick off the berries.

We were in t-shirts but he felt cold and was wearing a jumper, jacket and hat but I remember him looking up and saying how lovely it was to have the sun on his face. I knew then he probably didn’t have another summer, and I think he knew it too, but by then he had learnt to appreciate the small pleasures life offered.

Last night I was chatting to a friend who works in a nursing home and she said the biggest challenge this week will be ensuring everyone in the home stays hydrated. The drinking challenge is on.

It made me think about all those people confined to the inside of nursing homes or their own homes, unable to enjoy the benefits of a sunny day without the help of others. People who don’t get to feel the sun on their faces because there isn’t time to get them up and out.

By virtue of staffing levels and workload we often have our heads down dealing with the physical needs of the chronically sick and those with disability, and it is easy to forget that the simple things make a big difference.

It takes a bit of time and organisation but it is possible.

Yesterday, as my son and I walked to the shops to buy ice-creams, we passed a group of carers and people with learning disabilities doing the exact same thing.

We were all sharing the same pleasure and anticipation that an unexpected sunny evening brings, and if we need a clinical focus for this blog, we were topping up our vitamin D levels at the same time.

Readers' comments (5)

  • In days gone by patients were wheeled onto a verandah to get some air, but fresh air in many hospitals is now a precious commodity. Getting some air or sunshine, washing hair, washing feet all take a extra time but they can make a big difference. Some of the problem is about staffing but it is also about hospital design and layout. Nursing Homes are generally built with better outdoor access, although not necessarily more staff!

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  • Like thanking us for all the hard work we do and getting off a bit early after a horrible shift.

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  • I want to publicly credit City Hospital in Birmingham here. I went to the hospital for an appointment on Monday and it was refreshing to see members of staff sat outside with patients in their wheelchairs conversing with smiles on their faces enjoying the weather.

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  • Florence

    We like to open the patio doors on hot sunny days in our bays. The Patients and staff appreciate the fresh air coming in. It also gives the Patients a better view of the ducks and other birds who visit us regularly. As we have a fair bit of fields around our hospital grounds. The sunshine cheers everyone up. Even if you are working and know that you can't get out to enjoy it.
    I believe that it is the little things that make the biggest difference.Our hairdresser, who is retired herself, does a fabulous job. She is kind patient and has a great sense of humour. Our patients love her. Think about how positive we all feel when we have had a good hair cut or colour . We have a HCA who is hard working and always has a smile on her face and is fabulous at painting fingernails. The Ladies love having their nails done. The Gentleman who sells newspapers at the weekends is retired himself is fabulous too. He is friendly and kind and remembers everybody ! He calls himself '' The Paper Boy'' and even has a T-SHIRT with '' Paper Boy'' printed on it!!

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  • we used to sit on the balcony having a fag and a coffee with our patients - sadly this central London hospital has since closed.

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