During the morning handover the night nurse commented to me that one of our patients had been having episodes of low mood as he was getting frustrated by incontinence issues, which have been disrupting his rehabilitation.
I bumped into this particular patient later on that morning and asked him how things were going. He told me that he had indeed been feeling glum but that he had managed to do his bowel management independently and also managed to have a shower, so was feeling pretty chuffed with himself.
He went on to say that he knew they were not big improvements but today he felt he had achieved something. Previously everything had been getting him down. I congratulated him on his achievement and told him he should be pleased with himself.
This conversation made me think about what defines a success?
”Successes don’t have to always be monumental achievements”
The increased demand and expectation on NHS services, coupled with an understaffed nursing workforce, can make it feel like achievements and successes are few and far between.
As nurses we need to celebrate all our successes, and although it may not feel like there are many, look a little closer at everything you achieve during one shift and there will be something.
It can be the smallest of things like taking all your breaks, or spending an extra five minutes with an anxious patient, listening to their worries and reassuring them.
Successes don’t have to always be monumental achievements – by building a culture of support and positivity I hope we can increase staff morale, therefore reducing the incidence of compassion fatigue and burnout.
On the ward where I work, I am trying to encourage nurses to take the time to acknowledge their successes and share them with the rest of the team so that we can celebrate with them, rather than only reporting and acknowledging incidents or near-misses. These are important to learn from, but it is also important to talk about the brilliant work we do.
Only focusing on the negative things that happen on a shift can lower staff morale and lead to a ‘doom and gloom’ outlook. This can then not only affect the patients’ outlook and mood, but also the care they are being given at a time when they are vulnerable and relying on us to help them get through their hospital admission.
We need a robust nursing workforce to face the challenges ahead in the coming years. We can only achieve this if we work together, continue to work hard, value each other’s contribution and take pride in our profession.
Sian Rodger is health coaching nurse facilitator at the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre