It all seemed pretty straightforward, the drive to have single sex wards and bays.
No question in my mind that it is the best way forward. It is what patients want, it promotes dignity and privacy. But things are not always as they seem. Sometimes they are more complicated.
I visited an elderly relative this weekend, an 83-year old who was being cared for in a six-bedded bay with five other women. She was positive about the ward and about where she was being cared for.
I found myself saying it was a good thing that she was being cared for in an all female environment, how it is much better that it was all women. I felt quite smug as if by writing about the single sex initiative at Nursing Times I had had some part in implementing national policy.
Well, she said, it is a bit of a shame there are no men here as we would be having more of a laugh. Men have a better sense of humour, don’t they?
I was quite surprised by her response and questioned her more closely – what about if you were on the bed pan or having a wash wouldn’t you feel uncomfortable if there was a man in the bed opposite? No apparently not if the curtains were pulled properly.
So perhaps we do need to find ways for the sexes to meet when in hospital as there are social benefits that must not be forgotten in the drive to separate men and women.