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?