We want the NHS to be an Ideal Carer (see previous blog).
The Francis Report into the failure of care at the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust stated that ‘patient care is at the very centre of the NHS, and no other demands of the organisation should be put before the patient.’
This quote is taken from
Jane Garner : ‘Some thoughts and responses to The Francis Report’, published in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 2014 vol 28 No 2., 211-219.
Unfortunately Carers, including nurses, are actually real people, with real emotional as well as physical needs. They can also be ill themselves, or responsible for the well-being of other members of their families. In order to care for patients, NHS staff need to be and to feel cared for themselves. In order for family members to care for each other, they too need to be and to feel recognised and cared for.
Ignoring the emotional needs of carers increases the risk that they will suffer from compassion fatigue, that they will resent the care they give to patients; that they will find subtle ways to disrupt this care.
Jane Garner points out that the Francis Report seems to ignore the real psychological and emotional needs of professional carers (such as nurses). She describes how failing to provide proper support to nurses and other care professionals risks undermining the capacities of carers and in particular makes them less likely to feel and demonstrate compassion.
The needs of carers do sometimes have to be put before the needs of their charges, but it is hard to admit this in the face of a belief in the Ideal Carer.
If we want the NHS to care for patients, the NHS has be cared for and to care for its staff. If this was properly recognised, any care plan for patients would include full provision for the emotional needs of staff. Unfortunately, cuts have whittled away at the time and space for staff to talk to each other, to support each other, to share the frustrations and distressing experiences of their daily tasks in order to return to work refreshed. And those who plan services seem at times to have a great, sadly misplaced, faith in the existence and capacity of professionals to be Ideal Carers, totally unsupported and functioning permanently in Angelic or Saintly mode.