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On the wards

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‘Preparation will prevent frustration’

I normally arrive at work five or ten minutes early. What is the purpose of this enthusiasm? Why, to make sure my trolley is ready of course!

It will be a really bad day if there are no trolleys available because they are all being used outside rooms of patients who need extra infection control precautions.

I claim my trolley and clean it from top to toe including the wheels. I make sure to remove all the black sticky tape marks using an alcohol swab.

This cleaning ritual is something I learnt during my many years working as a midwife. Nurses just do not seem to take the same pride in their trolleys as midwives. Perhaps it is because they don’t use them so often.

So, what’s the purpose of this trolley? In short, it’s my working surface for the shift.

On the bottom go two foil trays for medicine pots and nebulisers. I add some spare drinking glasses, teaspoons for stirring laxatives and cleaning wipes. At night I add fluid balance charts.

As I go round my patients this trolley is invaluable. There are no writing or working surfaces in patient care areas – patients’ lockers and bedside trolleys
usually have personal items on them, and personal patient drug lockers are too small to use as a writing surface.

The trolley will usually fit along the side of the bed area next to the patient’s drug locker, so that I have a clean working surface for gathering together and giving out the necessary medication.

This is especially helpful when a patient is on lots of drugs and their drug locker is very full. In addition, I have spare drug pots on the bottom. With risk scores, food charts, input, output and observation charts all needing to be filled in at the bedside, my trolley is always useful.

As the shift progresses I need to write my notes. Desk space is at a premium, especially during weekdays. Computer terminals
and telephones occupy most free surfaces.

Doctors, physiotherapists, dietitians, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and social workers are all looking for somewhere to complete their documentation and make their phone calls from. At least I have my trolley to write on.

Documentation is important and while we still have handwritten notes, we need a clean, flat surface on which to write.

Everyone at work thinks I am a little eccentric and at times I think so myself but the environment in which nurses work is very important in helping or hindering them in the delivery of good patient care.

Little things can help the shift run more smoothly and can all add up to a less frustrated and more productive nurse.

Gail Smith is a staff nurse in Cardiff

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