To The MAU Nurses

To The MAU Nurses,

MAU (Medical Assessment Unit) is a busy, noisy ward where patients and Doctors come and go at random times. They also tend to be really depressing places as a young patient, because, most of the time, the other occupants are elderly. I was glad to be moved out of A&E, but I never look forward to these wards.

Your care last week was phenomenal. Like other MAU/AMU admissions I’ve had, you were understaffed and overstretched. I know that because you told me, not because my care suffered like it has done sometimes in other hospitals in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had fantastic nurses on busy wards before, but this is the first time I can honestly say that I loved every single one of my nurses. Here’s why:

My Hydrocortisone was given to me on time. The doses fall out of usual drugs rounds, but *have* to be taken at specific times. In the past, I’ve had to fight with people to be given them, which is stressful when I literally can’t survive without them (not for very long anyway!). The hospital didn’t have any tablets, but rather than waiting until a dose time, you told me straight away so I could get my own supply brought in. This was the first time I’ve never had to ask for my meds- someone was there bang on time, even preemptively a lot of the time. I was asleep for one dose and you woke me up. This has never happened before and it took a lot of the stress out of my hospital stay.

You let me keep/control my own meds. Some hospitals lock them all away, which makes potential Hydrocortisone arguments more stressful. I had a seizure once because of a prescribing error, so I always ask what I’m taking and why. You helped me ‘count out’ my meds when my brain wouldn’t work, and gave me the ones I’d run out of, but we did it together rather than having the control taken from me and just being handed random tablets.

Every nurse/HCA introduced themselves to the patients at handover. It doesn’t always happen. We were all called by our preferred names, not our bed number, which again, doesn’t always happen. I went to the nurses’ station to ask a question about when things were written up for and the new nurse could answer it without looking for my chart. If I needed something, particularly pain relief, it got sorted really quickly and without any kind of abruptness, despite being busy.

I had regular interactions with people. As a young, independent patient, it’s quite easy to get overlooked or ‘left to it’ while other patients need hands-on nursing. I’m quite happy to look after myself, but being in hospital is still hard on me, and regular interactions help improve my mood, which ultimately helps me get better quicker. It doesn’t have to be a lot- you were great at chatting to me when doing my obs and making a point of stopping by my bed between other tasks.

You talked about patients with respect every time, even to each other. This sounds basic, but sometimes nurses forget that I’m not senile and I can actually hear what they’re saying about patients. I also catch on quickly to their ‘codes’/hidden references. Even if they’re not moaning about me, it’s never a nice feeling wondering what things might be said, especially when you’re already feeling vulnerable. 

You could see I was helping out with elderly bay-mates by finding their call bells, or explaining things to them repeatedly, but you also made sure I was being looked after as a patient. Once you’d realised I was getting out of bed a lot to push another patient’s call button, you started to drop by more often to check on them, which in turn helped me. When a patient shouted at me repeatedly, you dealt with it and made sure she left me alone.

Everyone was cheerful and had a sense of humour. It makes such a difference having a cheerful nurse. It means I’m more likely to ask for help, or just generally feel better all round. It makes you feel more ‘relaxed’ in a potentially distressing situation. When nurses are sullen or abrupt, even if I know it’s because they’re overworked, I find myself not wanting to push my buzzer, reluctant to ask for pain meds, and anxious around obs times. There’s nothing worse than someone moving your limbs around wordlessly at obs times, like you’re some kind of corpse, but no one did that here.

I didn’t have to keep explaining my condition to people. I’m happy to if it helps people, but it’s exhausting repeating it to every new nurse. Your handover must have been bloody brilliant because I only explained it to the first nurse who did my intake, and after that everyone knew exactly how to treat me and what I needed. This made such a difference.

Lots of other little things made my life easier while I was with you: you made sure I could keep being independent while on a drip by giving me a charged pump; you posted my discharge note to me rather than making me wait hours for TTOs; you asked doctors for revised treatment plans on my behalf when I said it didn’t sound right. I never once felt like an inconvenience, no matter how busy you were. As far as MAU stays go, you did everything you possibly could to make it as pleasant as possible, which I really appreciate. And you helped smuggle me extra ice-cream for dinner- little things make all the difference! 🙂

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