Our Future Health and Happiness- an essay by Beryl Bradley

To think about our future health and happiness, I have to go back to the start of my career in Mental Health nursing in 1975.

After I qualified and following 3yrs experience on the wards and on a respite care ward, I was lucky to get a sisters post on the community, it was a new service set up by a very proactive consultant, he was very supportive and passionate about his patients, his words to me following interview, were, he would give me all support he could as long as I always kept him informed, if I didn’t and there was a problem he would dig the hole for me to jump in!

The  service was a 24hr service which involved a getting up and putting to bed  service, a respite care unit, a day hospital an initial assessment on a medical ward, access to consultant daily  weekly meetings, radios in our cars,(no mobile phones then) access to long stay beds.

After referral the process was seamless, we were able to support the family totally, certainly the fact that families always had access to their nurse, especially during the night, helped enormously to help families to cope and the system was very rarely abused. We built up a support network, arranging regular meetings and visits,

Home helps, District nurses, social workers GP’s shop keepers all were involved not to mention neighbours and the community

Communication was paramount either face to face or on the telephone (no Emails or texts)

Once a referral was accepted the patient remained on the books until either , death , or  admission to long term care.

Fast forward to the 90s when my husband and I set up and managed a care home for residents with  Alzheimer’s  the changes were occurring, much less support and of course the changes in Health and Safety, lone workers moving and handling issues, no more  helping  patients to remain mobile with any element of danger! Any risk taking by residents had to be risk assessed, to the extent that residents at our home were supposed to do the Food Hygiene Certificate, needless to say they didn’t, it was their home!

After 10 very happy but exhausting years, we retired.

Now up to date, I have just retired, as a Nurse from a Retirement Village.

I now have to think about my future, and with not so good health, what do I need?

I would hope for people who really care and are committed to their work, people who will have time to communicate with me face to face, not by text or Email, to be able to see me as an individual with changing wants and needs, also to include my family.

The NHS seems to be in crisis, although great work is being done, staff feel stressed and devalued, we all need support and to feel we matter and are part of a bigger picture one in which we can all really care and support each other, feel appreciated, hopefully people will respond and appreciate compassion training.

So much time and energy, is wasted, talking and worrying about the past and the future, we could all help the NHS and ourselves by staying positive in the moment with open hearts and minds.

We all react to overseas crisis and major incidents in our country and when faced with floods, snow and ice people react magnificently, so, could we be like that as normal?

The NHS can only get better, I remain optimistic for my future health needs.


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