Friday, October 15, 2010

Standard of Care

I’ve been absent.

Thanksgiving weekend was spent mostly in bed, feeling sick. I took the Friday before and the Tuesday after off work, all for a stupid little cold.

I think work burn out had something to do with my reduced immune system.

One of my clients has recently been diagnosed with cancer, and I’ve been putting a lot of energy into supporting him. Practical stuff has been taking up most of our time – getting to appointments, arranging new supports, making sure he has food in the house. I saw or spoke to him 2-3 times every day for about three weeks.

One bright spot in this experience has been visiting the oncology unit. That sounds so wrong, but wow! What a difference from the mental health units! Prior to this, they were the only parts of this particular hospital I had been in.

I walked in to a sunny, bright reception area. The nurses’ desk was open, and there was somebody to greet me, who actually looked me in the eye, and didn’t just pretend that they couldn’t see me through the glass while they type away on their computer. In fact, there was no glass! The nurses were happy to admit me in, without having met me before.

They came over to check on my client while I was there speaking to him. The nurse introduced herself, and talked about how we could support him together. My client had lots of space and privacy (well, as much privacy as a curtain can offer, but still…) while he received his chemo treatment. When leaving, the nurses told me to call if I needed any information.

I did call later in the week, and someone got back to me the same day with helpful information. The following day when I went in with my client, the nurses remembered who I was, and helped us right away with what we’d come for.

Everything about this experience is the polar opposite of how things go in mental health.

It really makes me wonder about how the treatment of these different (although some times the same) patients is valued, and what are the expected outcomes.

1 comment:

  1. It's always interesting taking a step out of one role and into another - mental health patient v physical health patient. The perceptions about cancer are possibly the polar opposite to those with mental health problems - possibly it is a part of the 'us and them' syndrome where so many people know that anyone one of us could have cancer.
    I'm lucky in that our local psychiatric hospital is really pleasant and has great nursing staff but I have to say that having visited others, we are quite the exception.