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Caring for my mum – A new kind of management role for me

Ali Raza, graduate of Health & Social Care Northern Ireland (HSCNI) General Management Training Scheme (GMTS) shares his experience of caring for his mother after a knee operation, and how this experience has complimented his day job, as a NHS manager.

“After a long and tumultuous journey, my mother, who had been suffering from pain in her left knee for over a year, was finally scheduled for a knee replacement in June 2017. After the operation, I found that I had been thrust into a new leadership and management position - becoming her full-time carer, and learned much from this important and special role.

The first lesson I learned was about preparation. Being ready for my mother coming home, and having a plan in place for dealing with basic pain and swelling; medications; arranging physiotherapy and making the home more disabled friendly would’ve made my management more proactive rather than reactive, as instead, I dealt with issues as and when they arose.

Another lesson the experience taught me was about empathy. Having never been in charge of someone else’s care before now, I hadn’t thought about the importance of being a good carer. Nurses face immense challenges every day.  They take on the momentous task of not only dealing with patients’ physical pain, but, providing emotional support. In the days leading up to the surgery, I tried to reduce my mother’s anxiety about the operation itself, by reciting knee replacement case studies with positive outcomes! Seeing how my mother was cared for in hospital reminded me of the personal, attentive work nursing staff do.

There was a very difficult period when my mother’s pain simply would not cease, despite heavy pain medication. I tried everything but nothing worked. It occurred to me that I needed to take action and consult the GP; I thought she should be re-admitted to hospital, which she eventually was. Another lesson emerged from this scenario. The difference between leadership and management became apparent in that, a managerial approach ensured compliance with procedures, whereas here I had shown leadership by challenging the status quo when her pain did not improve.

Most importantly, this experience taught me the importance of person-centred care, especially in relation to coping mechanisms. I realised that, though my mother had the same procedure as countless others, her way of coping was unique to her. I supported her by doing things that she likes and that were familiar to her, as well as trying new things, such as listening to relaxing music.  Caring for my mum has reminded me of the importance of learning from experience, and listening to patients, in a way that no formal training perhaps ever could.”

Have you cared for someone, or are caring for someone? What have you learned from your experience?


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Liz duncan 29-Oct-2017 at 23:01 hrs

Thanks for sharing igave up my career as a senior nurse as a carer at home totally diferent ,caring for my elderly mother i knew the system some carer's eere great other's not the sadest was my mother knew what was not nice for her i 'think some carer's ar not trained appropiately this is where the trust contract private agency's the problem here is time ao elderly people ar not getting the tume they need :my personal opinion i hold the trust responsible as they/an the care manager have a duty of care to thier client :an they should be monitoring the agency they ar paying to pick up any lack of care to the elderly person in thier care


David Harold Briggs 29-Oct-2017 at 09:02 hrs

My mum had a fall and required surgery in her late eighties. Until she went to a care home when she was 91 she required all of what you describe in your blog. I as you can figure was retired and able to cope. I also had great support from the various statutory bodies and from those of my family who are in NHS. We were fortunate. Ali you have explained exactly what is required from all NHS staff. I quote your own words 'Caring for my mum has reminded me of the importance of learning from experience, and listening to patients, in a way that no formal training perhaps ever could.' I do hope you publish your text on notices in doctors surgeries and the like.


Kristyene Boreland 28-Oct-2017 at 10:34 hrs

Brilliant engagement from the family unit within no doubt enhances patient healing in this process which is something well worth considering. Well done Ali Reza.


Brendan Clarke 27-Oct-2017 at 22:17 hrs

Learning from experience is gained from having the experience. For many of us what we have learnt from our experience is too inconvenient to be heard by hospital managers who prefer dreamy discussions about health care being provided by those in need of that health care.
The Patient Client Council has drifting into assisting this by arranging for so many patient groups to try to educate lower level staff on how the NHS could improve. Many of those patients are much more capable of presenting their ideas direct to decision makers but have to work through others who have their own agenda. Patients do not have real access to decision makers but rather to people who are looking for support for their own agenda.
I was receiving life saving treatment when the health service was born back in the 1940`s and am aware that it began without a clear-cut plan of action when the country was in a mess and food rationing was still the order of the day. Free health care without a coherent structure in place to actually organise it was not the way to introduce the service and it still has not managed to get organised.
The introduction of Health Trusts circa 1990 only worsened a bad situation. Health Trusts have impacted seriously on patient care by isolating care pathways. I have spent a lot of time as an inpatient since 1968. Before the arrival of Trusts and each department having their own budget there was greater discussion and co-operation between different departments in the care of the individual patient. I would have been seen by doctors from different disciplines to the illness which had led to my admission to check how my other problems had reacted to the cause of the current problem. Now everything is tailored to the immediate problem with no interest in how anything else is being affected. There is too much emphasis on Departmental Budgets when people end up arguing about which Department will accept the cost of a bottle of Paracetamol as has happened with me.
There is far too much time and money wasted in the NHS on overcrowded meetings where only a few have anything to say and quite often that has little substance. There are some people of real ability in management but their voices get lost in the babbel of people with nothing worthwhile to contribute which characterises so many meetings. Cut the numbers to those who can make a contribution other than seeking to maintain their own minor power base.