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‘It makes me sad and angry to hear patients referred to by a bed number’

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Newly qualified nurse, Donato, found that learning to give patient-centred care was one of the most important parts of his course.

Donato Tallo_SNT


The famous American poet and author, Maya Angelou, once said “people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.

We all know how important it is to provide patient-centred care, and treating patients, relatives and fellow healthcare staff as individuals is essential in holistic healthcare environments.

The NMC code of conduct states that nurses have a responsibility to treat people as individuals and respect their dignity. This is a good basis for all care and treatment to be built up from. However, it can be very easy to slip in to providing task-orientated care, particularly given the many pressures and demands on staff time in modern healthcare environments. Nurses must ensure they never lose sight of person-centred care - and this means student nurses as well.

To make sure your care is patient-centred, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Firstly, even when performing a relatively simple, but nevertheless important task, such as patient baseline observations, it is essential to take a step back and ask yourself if what you are doing is patient or task centred.

You should always properly introduce yourself to patients and check how they would like to be addressed. Keep patients updated on their condition and treatment and provide information in a manner they can understand, taking in to account levels of understanding and comprehension, speech, language, audio and visual difficulties.

It is often the simple things that make the difference to patients. Part of being a health professional includes treating people as individuals worthy of respect, dignity and value.

I often found when I was a student nurse that when you are enthusiastic and interested in what you are doing, time on placement goes quickly. Now that I’ve qualified, reflecting on my time as a student has helped me be holistic in my practice as a newly qualified staff nurse.

I learnt as a student to put patient-centred care at the heart of my clinical practice. It makes me sad and angry to hear patients referred to by heath care staff as a bed number or condition and not by their name. In my short clinical experience, I’ve already found that patients are often made anxious or angry because of poor communication by healthcare staff - even if the clinical care is first class, communication is as essential element of holistic, patient-centred care.


Donato Tallo is a newly qualified nurse

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I totally agree with this too. It was my NHS pledge this year to always refer to my patients by their name and not their bed number. As a student I want to encourage others to do the same too.

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