Now I’m in the middle of my third year I’m finding that I’m reflecting more on why I started a career in nursing
I think remembering why we’re doing it helps keep us focused during the darker days.
“As with many couples they’d rarely spent any time apart and despite us visiting daily she fell into loneliness”
My beloved Grandad died suddenly a few years ago and once he passed away my Gran was left somewhat alone. She’d broken her hip the year before and her mobility was reduced - as was her appetite for life.
As with many couples they’d rarely spent any time apart and despite us visiting daily she fell into loneliness. We got carers in to help with things she wouldn’t want us helping with. In all honesty the carers were dire. We changed companies so many times but the care was often worse. One day they didn’t visit her at all because they were “busy”.
As my gran was a diabetic it was lucky that family dropped in each day and we found her still in bed. The company claimed it was a management decision not to inform us they weren’t visiting - charming! An older person living alone with no family near to fight their corner might not have been as lucky as my gran.
These incidents got the cogs working in my brain.
My gran deteriorated fairly fast.
In my heart I’ve always thought she wanted to die. She didn’t want to live without my grandad, trapped in the house, having to rely on others.
When she was admitted to hospital we hoped they’d help her and then perhaps we could move into a residential home. She improved and they told us to prepare for discharge. No support was provided and we had to find a place for her on our own.
“My gran had been calling out in distress for her family [and] was sedated to “settle” her”
The following day my dad received a call from my uncle who told him to get to the hospital as soon as possible. When he arrived he found my gran close to death. She had gone through the process of dying alone. When I arrived she was gone. The nursing staff hadn’t called the family. They had no excuse.
The ward was staffed by agency staff and they hadn’t acknowledge my gran had family that visited daily. Other patients told us my gran had been calling out in distress for her family most of the morning and that they were then told she was sedated to “settle” her.
”I am going to make it my life’s work to ensure that the people I care for get what they want at the end”
I’m still distressed to this day that my gran died alone and scared. You only get one chance to help someone have a comfortable death. You can’t take back what you do in those last few days and hours.
These thoughts are getting me through the final few months of the course. However you feel at the moment please remember why you’re doing nursing and what difference it is you will make.
I’ve now got a qualified role in a hospice and I am going to make it my life’s work to ensure that the people I care for get what they want at the end.
Vicki Abrahams is Student Nursing Times’ adult branch student editor