By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

SOS STUDENT AMBASSADOR

Raising concerns: 'Nothing is worse than that feeling of being alone'

SOS ambassador, Alice, was horrified at the treatment she witnessed and felt it her duty to speak out

Alice Eveleigh_SNT

SOS Student Ambassador, Alice Eveleigh

The importance of speaking out when you witness poor care really hit home the day I witnessed a member of staff inappropriately communicate and mobilize a vulnerable patient who had suffered a stroke. Without informed consent, or emotional regard, the staff member stripped the elderly gentleman and changed his incontinence pad.

I was horrified.

I questioned the member of staff while this was happening and diplomatically informed him that what he was doing could be done in a different, more caring way.

I was not in my student nurse role at the time, which I feel contributed to his behaviour towards me; he looked at me as if I was stupid, finished what he was doing and walked out.

When I got home that evening, I told my family what had happened and that I was going to write a complaint. I knew with no uncertainty that it was my responsibility to say something, but my family’s response shocked me.

They told me that I would be risking my position at the hospital and jeopardising my job if I raised my concerns. I couldn’t believe they felt this way but their points resonated with me.

It was then that I realised first-hand just how vulnerable you are without someone supporting you when you wish to speak out.

I knew the patient care I had witnessed was wrong, and yet I doubted myself. I thought of the 2013 Francis report and the culture of shaming and bullying that followed whistleblowing.  

I had never before imagined I’d question myself like this.

I contacted my tutors at university who gave me their absolute support. Suddenly, I felt confident in myself. The safety that their support gave me allowed me to proceed with raising my concerns through the trust’s policy.

Having support when raising concerns is so important; nothing is worse than that feeling of being alone.

A week or so later I received a reply from the matron who told me that she had been informed about this particular member of staff a number of times and yet as I was the first to put my concerns in writing, a formal investigation could now proceed.

How long could that poor practice have continued and how many vulnerable patients could have been harmed had I not spoken out? That thought scared me far more than the thought of whistleblowing.

Without the support of my university I may not have had the confidence in myself to raise my concerns. It is critically important that students know who they can turn to if they are worried about something they have witnessed.

I became an SOS Student Ambassador because I know my university would support me in the future, but I also know how important it is that every student feels this way.

 

Alice Eveleigh is in her 3rd year studying adult branch at Bournemouth University and an SOS Student Ambassador

Readers' comments (10)

  • I agree that students must have the right support from the institutions they belong to when they raise concerns about poor care. But on the other hand, most of the time what is happening in reality, people are just looking for something to report to. For instance, they might see a situation in the hospital once and they are not aware why it was being done on that way, they always assume and come up with a conclusion that poor care and abuse are happening at that time. Sometimes people are just trying to look like a hero in order for them to gain popularity by reporting an abuse which they cannot prove.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • "Sometimes people are just trying to look like a hero in order for them to gain popularity by reporting an abuse which they cannot prove".

    I'm very interested to know why you think that somebody who whistleblows is out to gain popularity? It is well documented that Whistleblowing has the potential to ruin a nurses' career.

    Nurses' have a duty of care to their patients and MUST protect them, maintain their dignity and show them respect. majority of whistleblowers that witness poor nursing care are acting in their patients best interest.

    Not one nurse wants to whistleblow but if patients are receiving poor care they have a professional duty to report this, if they fail to, they are in breach of their code of conduct.

    Always remember that the beauty of nursing is that we are in a career where it is encouraged to elegantly challenge and discuss in an open honest environment to better experiences for our patients.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Alice Eveleigh

    'But on the other hand, most of the time what is happening in reality, people are just looking for something to report to. For instance, they might see a situation in the hospital once and they are not aware why it was being done on that way, they always assume and come up with a conclusion that poor care and abuse are happening at that time'

    I cannot think of a more incorrect statement if I tried. It is beliefs and attitudes like that that have created a culture in which concerns are not raised and/or valued. When an individual raises a concern, it must not be brushed away and thought of as attention seeking. Poor standards do not always equal abuse. However, each incident must be fully considered. Ultimately, if poor standards of care are witnessed and patients, to whom we are ultimately accountable, are put at risk it is our responsibility to escalate. My brother is an engineer and has often said that he is told by his supervisor that any issues he has with practice must be shared. How come this industry has a better culture of confidence in whistleblowing and not within the health service?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Dear anonymous first poster, as the 2 other posters have said, no-one whistle blows to "be a hero".

    What you say is very far from my experience.

    I shall take the liberty of linking to my blog again to clarify matters for you, the post of 30th January, "Why I didn't whistle blow":

    http://mentalhealthuncovered.blogspot.co.uk

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • michael stone

    Hi Alice.

    ' ... I witnessed a member of staff inappropriately communicate and mobilize a vulnerable patient who had suffered a stroke. Without informed consent, or emotional regard ...'

    You mentioned a stroke - it isn't clear to me, how easily it would have been, to obtain informed consent ? I ask this, because I had an experience while my mother was dying at home, of the District Nurses 'not getting consent from my mother'. Communication with my mum would have been 'difficult but not impossible' - but I think this stemmed from the nurses arriving with a 'list of to dos {tasks} from the GP'. A little earlier, a 999 paramedic had refused to even touch my mum, because it was clear that my mum wasn't consenting - the difference in 'attitude' between the paramedic and the DNs, was striking.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • tinkerbell

    Well done Alice. Anyone who's done it knows that it's not easy but we have to speak up for those without a voice. Its the right thing to do. You know it was without malice. Most would prefer not to be in that position but sometimes we have to do what we have to do. Sleep well:)

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Alice Eveleigh

    H Michael.

    Although communication was difficult, informed consent could have been achieved. Nonetheless if consent was not achievable, and without going into too much detail, the actions I witnessed were completely inappropriate. There was no form of communication from the practitioner to the patient resulting in a distressing event.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • michael stone

    Alice, communication with my mum would have been difficult - but had the DNs really tried, they would probably have worked out that she wanted them to go away.

    I do think this is something that nurses might 'drift into', as indeed could anyone who has go a 'list of tasks to do'. These DNs had got a list of things the GP wanted them to do, and they said who they were, and why they had been sent, but then they basically 'dived in and got on with it' without really 'checking the patient is consenting'. But it was complicated.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Sometimes with palliative patient's it can be a fine line for nurses to know what to do for the best, due to media influences. If a nurse gets signals from a patient they don't want intervention, a family member may say their loved ones have been neglected. Even though the nurse is acting in the best interests of the patient. However if a patient and the relatives as saying or showing signs they do not want treatment, the nurses should document it has been refused and reassess the situation (care plan). Although i believe this is now straying from the original subject of speaking out, well done Alice.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • michael stone

    The important piece of this one, is definitely the raising of the concern about bad behaviour.

    However, ‘consent’ was mentioned: for some reason, there is a lot of confusion about the [legal] situation re ‘consent’.

    If patients are mentally capable, it is a legal requirement to obtain consent before performing an action which would otherwise ‘be an assault’: and because ‘proper consent’ has to be informed, we thus reach ‘Informed Consent’. The clinicians inform the patient of the clinical options on offer and the outcomes of accepting/refusing, then the patient adds in any non-clinical considerations, and indicates consent or refusal. There is no ‘acting in the patient’s best interests’ here, and in fact the term ‘best interests’ is meaningless: lawyers inherently understand that, but clinicians seem to think there is some further stage of ‘someone other than the patient assessing the choice made’ and that isn’t legally correct. Neither is there any ‘shared decision making’ – the patient makes the decision, after an interactive process during which the patient is informed by clinicians. What seems to 'bother HCPs' is 'the patient making the wrong choice' - while the basis for that being 'troublesome' is obvious, legally patients can make bad decisions (that is part of being mentally capable - not at all the same concept as mentally 'sensible' !).

    It is different if the patient isn’t mentally capable (which is where end-of-life/palliative care/stroke fits in, as mental incapacity is commoner in those situations) when ‘best interests’ in the legally-required form of Section 4 of the Mental Capacity Act comes into play – that type of ‘acting in best interests’ is a legal requirement, but sadly all too-many people, including a lot of HCPs, currently have a very imperfect understanding of the Mental Capacity Act and its actual requirements/meaning.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related Jobs

Sign in to see the latest jobs relevant to you!

newsletterpromo