'It’s time to tell the public that nurses are not maids'
The implications of the health bill, and the public mauling-by-media the profession seems to endure on a regular basis are putting nursing under a fair bit of pressure.
But the thing keeping most of you awake at night is the fear that you cannot meet the expectations of patients and carers using your existing resources. In our exclusive survey last week more than half of you (55%) said this was your biggest concern.
Workforce cuts are piling the pressure on an already stretched profession, but the public’s expectations are adding to that stress.
Let’s not suggest that any patient or carer should ever tolerate the poor care we saw documented in last year’s Care Quality Commission and ombudsman reports. Drinks and food left out of reach and blatant disregard of dignity are totally unacceptable. But some patients are unrealistic about what a nurse’s role really is.
Nurses have told me that some patients use their call bell to get them to change the television channel, pour water or recline their beds – all reasonable requests, except the patients in question were extremely mobile and well enough to do these tasks themselves.
There will always be awkward patients and nurses are usually resilient at dealing with them. But the lack of appreciation for nurses, respect or understanding for the job they are being paid to do is leading to increased frustration – among nurses and patients.
Buoyed by the review website culture, where the customer is always right, some seem to believe a stay in hospital should be like a stay in a hotel. While of course feedback should be analysed to make healthcare improvements, patients need to realise that nurses are not maids. They must learn that nursing requires a broad range of skills – and unquestioning servitude is not in the job description.