Consideration, Compassion and Kindness
for our patients and each other in COVID-19 times
Consideration, Compassion and Kindness are qualities that are always important, but now more so than ever as we face into another 'COVID' week. These qualities are as important for each other in the work place as they are for the patients we look after. In the middle of this strange new world and working environment we should not lose sight of the fact that the care we provide and decisions we are making are not new ones. There were and always will be challenging care decisions to be made.
On the evening of 4th April, Dr. Siobhán Kennelly, Clinical Lead for HSE Older Persons Clinical Programme, made a very important public contribution to the discussion on COVID-19 on the radio. The link for this interview is at the end of this email. Siobhán, our hardworking clinical lead, highlighted the challenging, compassionate and great work being done in the community and in nursing homes by all the staff caring for older people in our COVID-19 world. We would like to thank each and everyone of you for your dedication and advocacy you all provide for the people you care for and support.
At the moment we are all extraordinarily busy. But when this pandemic has passed, and it will pass, we must reflect on what we have learnt from it all, across our communities, hospitals, nursing homes and residential care facilities.
As Dr. Mike Ryan from the World Health Organisation has said , how proud he is to be Irish and how proud he is of Ireland’s response to this pandemic. He also said we must “adapt, adjust, implement and measure, .... we need to do this repetitively... we are in this together... we must be comprehensive in our response! So how can we apply this thought process to our Residential, Nursing Home and Residential Sectors?.
Specifically given the new task given to HIQA we hope they in turn will look and record the significant new inputs being provided to nursing homes and the unmet needs. In time, I hope they record and collate these for further constructive suggestions that they can then make for the support of this crucially important sector of our society. In this way we can ensure robust supports are in place for care standards in nursing homes in line with evolving national and international knowledge and developments in the care of older people in nursing homes.
The care, expertise and compassion that we all exercise during the course of our working day will be vital in the weeks ahead. Over the years of your professional careers you have managed, expertly, other outbreaks of influenza and norovirus. This outbreak, with all is challenges, allows you put the expertise and experience you have collected during your chosen profession and career to its best use. In conjunction with colleagues across many specialties you have worked to ensure if someone is ill they get the best possible care, in the most appropriate place for them. One of the particular challenges for all of us, at the moment, is the regulations around visiting time and that time cannot be spent by partners, families and friends when a close relative is dying.
Striving to uphold the dignity, respect and compassion that we all wish for each other over the course of our lives conflicts with some of the things we are seeing happening around the world at the moment. The uncertainty and pace of change adds to difficult and challenging times we are all experiencing, particularly health care professionals and the jobs we do. We should acknowledge and understand that we can only do our best with the resources we have, and accept that if we put the patient at the centre of what we are doing – there is only so much you can do, and only so much you can expect to give of yourself. Put simply sometimes, good is good enough, you cannot expect perfection all the time.
I would like you all to acknowledge that to yourselves. I would like to thank you sincerely for your contribution, commitment and most of all the care and compassion you show to the people you look after.
American poet, Kathleen O’Meara, penned a poem on March 16th that has received widespread acclaim. It is called In the Time of Pandemic (‘And the People Stayed at Home’). It is well worth a read
Be safe and stay well
Click on this link to hear the interview with Dr Kennelly:
RTE Radio 1. Drivetime. 3 April 2020. Interview starts at 0:37:45
Thank you to Siobhán and all the nursing staff, health care workers, GPs, Medical Officers and all the teams.
Dr. Diarmuid O'Shea
President of the Irish Gerontological Society