Perfect Moments of Care

I was asked recently by a friend who my favourite photographer was and why I was so passionate about photography – what is it you like about it?

Henri Cartier – Bresson my favourite photographer was a French photographer who was seen as the father of photojournalism and life reportage. He was quoted as saying ‘We work in unison with movement as though it were a presentiment of the way in which life itself unfolds. But inside movement there is one moment at which the elements in motion are in balance. Photography must seize upon this moment and hold immobile the equilibrium of it.’

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Cartier – Bresson demonstrated great skill in composition and beauty. Had he not pressed the shutter button when he did it would not have existed. Cartier – Bresson went on to say “I suddenly understood that photography can fix eternity in a moment.’

So, why I am so passionate about photography? It has the ability to capture a moment in time.

Alongside all the photographs I have taken there have been other moments of time that have been captured in my mind and will remain there until the day I die or lose my memory. Special moments such as when both my children were born, the night my granddad who I adored as a child passed away and the moment my partner was diagnosed with MS. It made me think about how our memories enable us to capture and replay at any given opportunity a moment in time. The power of memory recall!

The conversation I had, made me think about how our actions in the NHS are captured as a memory for our patients. We will leave an everlasting impression whether it is direct or non-direct. Some people’s memories of the NHS are joyful, maybe having a baby, becoming a parent, I know from experience that both my children’s births evoke different feelings and emotions due to the level of care I received. I can also replay in my mind the night my granddad died, walking through the hospital corridors in the still of night, seeing him behind a ward bay curtain with no privacy. Feeling totally devastated as I hadn’t been with him when he died. How the nurses were, what they looked like, how they treated us, my granddad.

The majority of people who use our services are vulnerable, scared and often ill. The services we provide, how we treat people, speak to them, show compassion and care for them will be captured as their memory of the NHS and could be the moment of care being diagnosed with cancer, the last breaths of a loved one or bringing a new life into the world. Sadly life doesn’t have the benefits of digital photography, care is 35mm film. We can’t preview to see if we got it right, delete and start again. We need to get it right first time, capturing that perfect moment of care.

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Making the transition from being a nurse for 14 years to joining the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme and making the transition to management was daunting. I often wondered if I could make an impact for patients like I did as a nurse. If I could give them that fantastic experience, make it the best it could be without seeing, touching, speaking with them. Of course the answer is yes I can, I can influence the way care is provided, ensure frontline staff are happy, motivated and leading themselves and their teams. To ensure staff are nurtured and cared for too, as evidence tells us this is how we can influence the patients experience and it’s the right thing to do.

I love photography as it captures a precious moment in time, it allows me to create memories that I can see and that I can share with my family, that I can be proud to tell them about. Caring for people in the NHS is the same, it offers a privileged position for those who choose it to create and capture those moments for patients. So, how would you like your care to be remembered?

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Love in the NHS…

I was incredibly privileged to be asked to speak at the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme 2013 intake welcome event in Leeds on Monday.

What really struck me and left me in total awe was the end of the day – the trainees were given a short brief ‘1 minute to make a promise to one another’. Putting it in the context that most of the 100 trainees were on their 1st day in the NHS it was a sight to behold. The trainees made pledges such as ‘we promise to stand collectively as one voice for the NHS’ ‘we promise to stay true to our values’ and ‘we promise to put patients at the centre of all we do’. After only 1 day these value based promises were emerging with such courage and conviction.

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This really got me thinking about what makes the NHS workforce so special and different to others such as the private sector and my conclusion is LOVE. So this may sound gushy and if you’re feeling slightly weak in the stomach maybe look away now but Love is everywhere in the NHS.

Karen Lynas said last year at the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme induction event that one thing that is a predictor of life expectancy and will aid progression through any illness is knowing that someone loves you and for me this sits perfectly with what I’m about to say
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Love – it runs in all forms through our beautiful NHS from the mum who has just given birth to her bundle of joy to the elderly lady who kisses her lifelong soul mate goodnight for the last time and all those relations and connections in between.

As a nurse I have witnessed all kinds of emotional moments that encompass love, babies being born, a mum losing her 7 year old son, the elderly man who felt as though he had lost his life when his wife passed away, the scared young boy who was trapped in the car who’s hand I held whilst the roof was cut off as his mum prayed by the roadside…..the list is endless. We all know that the NHS is bursting with emotional stories of love and love lost, it’s the nature of what we do – ‘the NHS touches our lives at times of basic human need when care and compassion are what matter most’.
Why is Love so important to us as human beings? Love makes you feel valued, it gives you a sense of purpose, and it drives passion. It makes it worthwhile, people will go further for love, it makes you feel cared for and appreciated. Love allows us to feel and therefore show compassion for others it makes us happy and motivated, it drives us and allows us to believe and dream. Having a self-love is also essential – believing in yourself loving who you are by doing this we can shine as individuals and inspire others.

There are so many people in the NHS that love it, also so many people who use its services and are truly grateful for the difference it makes to their lives. This is why I believe that Love is what makes the NHS what it is today, we are a different breed to all others we hold compassion in our hearts, we want to help others not for any profit but for self-fulfilment and a sense of emotional wellbeing.

If we can continue to lead through love and the feelings it evokes within us, if we can create a culture that puts not only patients but staff at the heart of what we do then I truly believe that we can reduce some of the tragic failings we have recently witnessed.
As Helen Keller said – ‘All that we love deeply becomes a part of us’ and this is true of all the hardworking staff and fantastic service users who love the NHS and who give fantastic care 365 days a year – because the NHS is not just a job for us, it’s part of us, its engraved within our souls and this is what sets us apart and this is why the NHS Graduates who made their promises on Monday did what they did, they hold the love and values that people in the NHS have.

So what is the thread that weaves through every area in the NHS, from clinical services, to the CEO office? I believe its Love.

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