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Does anyone remember when patients made the hot drinks?

  • Comments (30)

When I was a student we used to ask patients to do the milky drinks rounds in the evenings.

Those were the days - when patients stayed in hospital until their stitches came out and we worked in predictable peaks and troughs with the occasional crisis. Life was less complicated 30 years ago. Patients trusted their nurses and there was never an expectation that anyone would complain.

The challenges faced by nurses today are so much more complex. Even if you had a patient well enough to do the hot drinks, they would probably not be allowed to help for health and safety reasons. The pace of change is rapid and it feels as if nursing has failed to keep up and engage the implications of this change.

We need to have that tricky conversation about what nursing is, what is driving its development and whether a direction is right for patients’ care. An example might be 12-hour shifts. They save money and might be good for staff arranging child care or social lives, but are they good for patient safety?

Marie Manthey, the advocate of primary nursing, gave some great advice that I always used when considering any change in practice: “Patients matter most but staff matter too.”

The new CNO of England, Jane Cummings, has laid out her vision for nursing and underpinned it with values: care, compassion, courage, commitment and communication. It is easy to be cynical but I think she has captured, in those five words, what nursing is.

She has started a dialogue about what nursing is and it is up to the profession, at all levels, to engage and take up the debate. This appears to be a real opportunity to talk about what nursing really means and define a philosophy for the future.

Imagine every nursing team across England sitting down for an hour and using the ‘five Cs’ to carve out their philosophy of care. An hour to write down what nursing means to them on their ward, unit or department and how they can achieve their goals. There is power in being able to articulate why your work is important, why it should be valued and to celebrate what you do well. It also helps to clarify when concerns should be raised and where change needs to happen.

Nursing has to change at grass roots level - anything else is merely cosmetic. So let’s stop talking audit and dashboards for a minute and think about what nursing should be. What is the value of empathy, compassion and care? How can nurses provide the best care all day, every day? What are the limits of nurses’ roles? What do patients actually need and want from nurses? When do nurses make a difference?

Being clear about what drives and motivates you and feeding this into the national debate is vital for patient care. With clear vision we can recapture public respect, but more importantly, their confidence in what we do.

  • Comments (30)

Readers' comments (30)

  • Anonymous

    Sitting round a table for an hour eating sandwiches, drinking coffee and breathing a lot of hot air about this philosophy and that philosophy is exactly where the NHS is going wrong and all the money is wasted! Whatever happened to people knowing what job they were there to do and just getting on with it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Hear, Hear...anonymous 0.27am 13.8.12,

    Too much talk and not enough action which is what is wrong with nurses these days.

    A simple philosophy...doesn't take much brain power either.

    Nursing is doing what a patient is unable to do for themselves during illness or enabling a peaceful and dignified death.



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  • Anonymous

    2.51 am

    is that all?

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  • Anonymous

    whilst I agree with the sentiments expressed alll too often they are not put into practise. Where I work we get told they had no time for me in hospital (not always a nurses fault I admit).
    We TRY to work in partnership with management and put talk into practise ideas. Put talk into action !!

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  • Anonymous

    Nursing is all about looking after people who are not very well, it has got nothing to do with the old days when younger and able-bodied patients used to help out with the hot drinks - they also used to sit in bed smoking cigarettes, I think we have moved on a lot since then.

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  • Anonymous

    our patients served hot drinks from the trolley but they weren't allowed in the kitchen to make them because of the dangers of gas cookers and the steam pressure water boiler. this was in the mid 1970s on.

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  • Anonymous

    I too was a student when the patients made the evening drinks. To many it was the final task to be undertaken before they could be deemed fit to go home.
    Nursing is about helping those who cannot meet their needs on a daily basis wether thats due to an acute episode of illness or a chronic condition. To me it makes no difference if you need to use highly technical equipment or just the you and your 1:1 interaction with that person or their family if you make a difference then thats nursing however delivered.
    The skill in nursing is the application of that unquantifiable knowledge, perception and people skills which cannot be measured only witnessed. No-one has been able to define the essence of nursing but we all know it exisits.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 14-Aug-2012 9:49 am

    ask Mr Cameron and Mr Lansley they know how it should be done as well as everybody else who is not a nurse!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    nursing =caring and being involved every minute unfortunately a lot of nurses are paid/presence not /effectively nursing interventions in their shift .with other words some are working more than others.Is a lot of laziness and a lot of just doing the writing and the papers and not bothering about what is with the patient.somebody asked me one day if i know the role of the sister on the ward. being honest and realistic the role of the sister is to be on holiday most of the time and to work part-time .some of the managing roles in healthcare have to be completely changed .being a nurse is not just a job is dedication and vocation is you have it or you do not .sorry is a lot to say ...

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  • Anonymous

    Is anyone ever going to be brave enough to start up a debate about how little respect some patients show towards each other and staff - especially nurses.

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