She described this as her survival technique on a ward where she knew she couldn’t be in three places at once. “When I realised I no longer felt their pain, I knew it was time to leave” she said.
That same day I had the pleasure of visiting a unit in Nottingham who care for people with personality disorders. I was really heartened by their approach to patient care - and how they care for their staff.
In the Ansel Clinic they aim to ensure that every interaction with a patient is a therapeutic one.
It rolls off the tongue easily - but how do they actually do it?
The clinic uses an operational framework based on social therapy so that staff at all levels - consultants to cleaners - are supported to work within such challenging an environment as this. Systems are in place for regular debriefing, reflective practice and supervision.
It was interesting to hear how staff from all disciplines, including managers, work alongside each other - and even those working in cleaning and hotel services have training to help them to understand personality disorder, enabling them to function as part of the team.
I was struck by how these ideas could be adapted and used by nurses - particularly those in acute care and care of older people settings.
All nurses need to have time to stop and think about what they are doing, how they are doing it and why. Sadly, many are not given this chance.
No nurse should ever feel as my friend felt. Staff have to be supported to give effective care and to work out solutions when things start to go wrong. Those who need extra support can then be identified. This requires staff at all levels to share the same objectives for their service.
So who looks after your team to ensure every interaction with patients is a therapeutic one?