Posted by: ayrshirehealth | December 18, 2013

Turning a negative into a positive by @mclaughlynn

Until people get to know us.

I have been a Charge Nurse in Older Adults for 20 years and I have really enjoyed my career over these years .

When I first qualified in 1993 the negative comments came from fellow classmates and other nursing colleagues about wanting to work with “geriatrics” and so the stigma about looking after older adults were about ignorance and lack of insight into the speciality.negative comment

I fought very hard to challenge peoples views about elderly care, which was difficult due to the negative views of other nurses, and I suppose I only really have seen the shift in peoples views over the last 5 years – something which I think came from the shift in the ageing population and as people are living longer.  When I was younger 40 was seen as ancient and now at 42 I think nope I really am young! – how wrong was I.

The average age of patients on our ward is currently sitting around 85 – 90 years old; however the real issue recently has been a number of negative and occasionally aggressive relatives and families unhappy with not specifically the nursing or medical care but just ‘things’ in general.  My impression is this is in part due to the negative press about Mid Staffordshire, the Francis Report etc etc , the public have lost their faith.

As the Senior Charge Nurse I have found this a challenge in supporting my team.  I am extremely proud of them and know that they carry out a great service.  However it’s on admission, until people get to know us, that we find the greatest challenge – we are constantly facing negative comments and aggression and as a team it is grinding us down.

Staff Care

So after a particularly difficult week last week, I discussed this, in supervision, with my Clinical Nurse Manager; she suggested contacting Staff Care in an attempt for them to support the team through this really difficult time, which incidentally always seems to come after some negative storyline being run in the national press about older patients in other hospitals.  This made sense last week as at the weekend of the 24th November a story ran about “a lady in Edinburgh being starved of food and fluids because she was on the death pathway “ – these stories are so difficult to read when you are in the nursing profession because we all know that the Liverpool Care Pathway supports and enables patients to die with peace and dignity however it is something else that the negative press from media has ruined for our dying patients.

Our values

ValuesMy aim is to improve our public and patient users experience and knowledge of our service – we need to be visible and transparent and honest – these are some of our Board’s values and something that we all currently do but I really believe there is a huge Public Relations exercise needing to be done to increase the publics confidence and respect for all the professionals working in older adults care.

We are the service of the future – due to the ageing population which as we all know is growing rapidly, older adults medicine is now the “sexy” speciality – according to one of my SCN colleagues.

I don’t want our Ayrshire public worrying about coming in to my ward – I want people to know that we really care and we are putting the patient at the centre of their care.

Open Day

My plans are all in my head at the moment, as bearing in mind this only reached a peak last week, but I hope to speak with Clinical Improvement Team and my Senior Charge Nurses to hold an open day where we can have information for the public on what we do , how we do it and how well we do it and what happens when it doesn’t go so well .

Alz ScotlandI am a Dementia Champion and I hope to involve our Dementia Nurse Consultant Janice McAlister in opening the avenues into the Dementia support groups within Ayrshire so that the users of our service know that I am the Senior Charge Nurse and that we are making positive steps within our clinical areas to improve the care for patients with dementia and their carers.

PurposeThe public need to know that we as the Senior Charge Nurses within NHS Ayrshire & Arran really care and I hope that with continued support from my Charge Nurse colleagues we can all come together and do something really positive to reassure our community that we do care and the improvements that are taking place in Older Adults Care.

To be continued at a later date ……………………………

This week’s blogger is @mclaughlynn (Lynn McLaughlin) who is a Senior Charge Nurse in NHS Ayrshire & Arran



  1. There is no doubt we need to build trust again. I’m so sad to hear the impact on your team. I wonder if some people who have used your services either as carers or the individuals themselves could help to build confidence internally. And externally too their advocacy on your behalf could be very powerful. The only way care will be improved everywhere is when all feel valued. Keep up your great work and encourage good feedback to. Audrey

  2. […] including patients with dementia. Lynn McLaughlin is a Senior Charge Nurse and wrote about Turning a negative into a positive on the Ayrshirehealth blog. I look forward to reading more about Lynn’s work and what she […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: