Conversation between Jack Simpson and Natasha Reedy on -The Patient experience and Partnering in Care at age 40.
Welcome. Today I have Jack Simpson with me and as you know this is Natasha Reedy the examiner for The Patient experience and Partnering in Care. So, Mr Simpson…
Call me Jack please.
Oh lovely, thank you. Thank you for joining us today. So, how’s your day been so far?
Fantastic day, yep. Beautiful. Beautiful weather and enjoying the day, so, pleased to be here.
Yeah, thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule, because I know you’re a pretty busy man, and you’ve got other commitments to get to after this interview today, so thanks for your time out.
So, tell me a little bit about yourself, what are your interests? What do you like to do when you’re not busy at work?
When not busy at work there’s the gym, and the gym keeps me fit enough to be able to ride motorbikes, so that’s the passion, so they’re the two things that kind of go hand in hand at the moment to keep me young and youthful.
Ok, a little birdie told me that you also like to play music as well.
There’s an interest there that hasn’t yet been fully discovered, so one day. Watch this space.
That’s right, alright, lovely, and so what sort of music are you interested in? What do you like?
I grew up with the traditional rock and roll type music but I’ve been lucky to be exposed to Spanish music and other walks of life now that I actually appreciate all of it.
Is Julio Iglesias in there?
If there’s a guitar involved I’m interested. I think they all blend, and I think the skills in all of them can cross, so I’m really intrigued about how that can be delivered. And excited to go down that road one day.
Yeah. Do you like Mumford and Sons, cause they, one of the guys in there plays the banjo. Have you heard of them?
No, haven’t heard. Haven’t been exposed to them yet so…
Oh, I’m going to have to introduce you.
Maybe I’m too sheltered.
You’re going to love them. You’ll be inspired. Ok, so can you just tell the audience how old you are?
I’m halfway to 90 apparently, so 45 very recently.
And so to me you look really healthy, but you’ve had a few patient experiences. Which one would you like to sort of share with us about, what comes to mind?
From a very young age I’ve apparently pushed some boundaries and my parents will attest to that, that I would, often we would be on holidays and before we were unpacked we would be getting stitches or something. So, I’ve pushed some boundaries on some activities and that probably hasn’t really changed through my life so…
Ok, so revisiting your childhood experiences then. When you’ve gone and had stitches or I don’t know, maybe broken bone, were your experiences positive as a child when you went to get health care?
Yeah, they pretty much, I got pretty accustomed to it to be honest. It wasn’t, needles and all that stuff didn’t phase me so much, I was never comfortable around hospitals, the smell used to kind of, yeah I didn’t agree with that side of it, but yeah while I was getting, I got stitches everywhere. I didn’t break, I broke very few bones actually.
Ever broken a bone?
A toe I think. I was really lucky, but had, I’ve got stitches everywhere. And yeah, I was, pushed that boundary pretty well.
So, you’ve had patient experiences throughout, from when you were very young to, what’s your most recent one now that you can recall?
An actual …
… overnight stay?
So, 12 nights was when…
Apparently life begins at 40.
Is this when it happened?
This is when it happened.
When you were 40?
Life begins at 40 and a week after I turned 40 I’m in hospital. So, life beginning wasn’t really pleasant, so…
I helped somebody in a car crash and ended up rupturing a disc in my back, lower back, so I became the victim from being the hero, which was unfortunate but that’s what I chose, so I deal with that because I chose that so yeah, I ended up in hospital for 12 nights with a ruptured disc and feeling like an old person very quickly because mobility was gone, flat on my back and learning to walk again basically was an effort so…
And it was interesting because the ward I was in, in a private hospital, was full of older people and it sort of took me into a stage of life I wasn’t kind of ready to be at at that stage so, it was a shock to the system. 12 nights away from everyday life when you’re so busy and so full on to be just a sudden dead stop was confronting.
On your back. So, you really relied on the nurses were you to help you with your activities of daily living? Things that you needed, since you’d lost your independence. How did you get to communicate to the staff your needs and wants?
I think it was, in the first probably 4 or 5 days of being in hospital, the back issue itself seemed to be pushed to the side and it was more me coping with side effects of medication because the pain was so intense. There was, it was really, it threw me, it really threw me, because I wasn’t prepared for all of the other side effect side of it to start.
So, what was happening to you? What was, so you were in a lot of pain, so, were they coming in and assessing your pain to try and work out what the best type of pain relief you needed?
Yeah, and I’m a bit of a sook. Like most males I guess, they get the flu and they think they’re dying.
I wouldn’t say that, no, no, don’t put yourself down. I’d say your pain sounds like really intense.
Yeah, it was intense. I couldn’t, I mean, the ambulance officers picked me up from the loungeroom floor, I couldn’t move. I was flat on my back and so…
Oh, that’s terrible.
You know, from an active life to that, is kind of…
The day after your birthday?
Life is supposed to be beginning, it wasn’t beginning. It was a new life, but…
So, you would have been really worried about, oh, I don’t want to tell you what you were worried about, but I’m thinking if you’re saying all of a sudden, you’ve lost your independence, were you worried that you were ever going to be able to walk again? Like did they talk to you about whether you were going to be able to walk again? Like what kind, what sort of communication was going on about your injury and your loss of function there?
I guess it was two sides to the medical staff. Obviously, you’ve got your doctors and then you’ve got the nurses. And in my eyes the nurses connect the dots that are not connected or communicated so well by the doctors. So, the nurses play a really critical role in not only providing information to the patients but also to try and keep them comfortable because during those first 4 or 5 days parts of the body don’t always function the way they’re supposed to so theres, that’s embarrassing and at no stage do they make you feel that way, that it’s normal. The fear of not being able to play sport again, the fear of not being able to…
Get back on your bike.
Ride a motorbike.
Back to work.
Fishing, diving, all those things that you were accustomed to doing, suddenly all of that looks like it’s gone. So, from 100 kilometres an hour to 0, and its…
Yeah, but the nurses play a huge role in just joining the dots. I really think that’s probably the simplest way to explain it cause if the dots aren’t joined the communication is not a complete circle and there’s a lot of gaps that you will, when you’re in that sort of position you start assuming the worst and that’s human nature. And unfortunately, assuming the worst means you talk yourself into you’re never going to be able to walk again, you’re never going to be able to do all these things again, so the nurses will give you the options of what’s maybe down the track. The doctors certainly give you the option you know, of surgery, or this is what’s wrong with you, but they don’t go beyond, the doctor’s kind of don’t go beyond whatever the fact is on the table, and they don’t, yeah, I think you kind of need someone to look out for your wellbeing professionally.
Yeah. Good. And what about your family during this time? Was anyone thinking about them and the impact on them?
I think, from personal experience, the family gets forgotten. And not through the hospital scene, but through, the patient gets plenty of visitors, and it’s all about the poor patient, the poor patient, where as if you’ve got a partner or kids, that their lives also in turmoil, that no one ever considers how any of that’s affecting them. They’ve got to uproot their daily routine to visit every day or night or whatever it is.
Ok. And they would have fears and worries about you and they would need some time from the health professionals to sit down and talk about that too. Did that happen for your family?
I was probably a bit self-centred at the time to consider that, I sort of had …
And that’s understandable. Reflecting back though, has your family spoken about the incident and it’s impact on them?
Definitely, that they are the forgotten ones. And like I said, maybe not necessarily from the staff, but I don’t know of any conversations they had along that line. I think when you’re in hospital, and when you’re there 24 hrs a day, and 12 nights is a long time, in my eyes. It was the most time I’d ever spent there. You disconnect from parts of the world, and you also disconnect from routine.
And that’s probably necessary for recuperation. You know, so, don’t beat yourself up over that.
I was probably lucky enough that I could still work, is fairly mobile these days so while I was waiting to get x-rayed and CT scanned and all that type of thing, I’m still emailing from the bed and still keeping stuff moving.
As long as I can keep it moving. But I was lucky enough to have work staff come up and bring up the paperwork.
Yeah. And I guess the audience needs to know that you’re a manager of a business so you’re very critical in that organisations on going effectiveness.
And so, you’d feel that responsibility that you need to keep on staying in touch with that work.
But yeah, you’re very correct in you’ve got to back off long enough to recover and particularly in those first 4 or 5 days I really didn’t apart, I didn’t really, I wasn’t really too bothered about the business at that stage.
That’s healthy then. That’s a very healthy balance.
Yeah. It was probably when, it was when all the pain management and side effects were under control my brain kicked in again and away we went with work business.
And this could be a measure for you of that you’re, you know, you are recuperating because you’re back on track thinking about work rather than your health, so maybe that’s an indicator for you that things are coming good for you a little bit? That progress is being made in your health status?
Definitely. I was given 2 choices in hospital and one was surgery and the other was physio. And possibly a combination of both. But generally, I was informed, and well informed I believe, to stay away from surgery if you can and take the physio seriously, and exercises and whatever else they tell you, take them seriously.
And who informed you of this advice?
I was lucky enough to get taken under the wing by one of the nurses.
Ok. Were you in the private hospital, or the public hospital?
Yeah, private hospital.
Private? And so, a nurse took you under her wing and gave you some advice?
She basically said when the doctor comes in to see you I want to be there. I want to ask the questions that maybe you forget, or you’re too scared to ask, and yeah, I was…
How’d you feel about that? Did you feel really well supported with that nurse saying that to you or did you have concerns about that?
I guess I felt like I had someone in my corner.
Great, looking out for you.
Looking out for my well-being, so, because I was, I was winging it, and I don’t wing it in life very often, but I was winging this.
So, you were vulnerable and you really needed someone who had your back, literally.
And that happened. They had my back alright, so, and because I took that seriously, and I was told, too many people probably don’t take the physio line seriously and they don’t exercise once they’re better they stop doing it, too lazy and all those things. I still to this day stretch, and I still know that if there’s ever any pain, I still know the process well enough to go back. Back off a little bit and then build up again.
Great, so you’ve had a good, it sounds to me that you had good team communicating to you and advising you on how to recuperate after this injury.
Definitely. And after 12 nights you, through talking to them, and obviously you’ve shared personal experiences and stuff so you actually become kind of part of the family and you feel like they are actually looking out for you.
So, they disclosed a little bit about themselves, do they? But it’s appropriate just so you can build that relationship, is it a relationship of trust then if they reveal something personal that’s appropriate to you then you feel then it’s safe for you to reveal something more as well to them and they’re going to hold it confidential.
Yeah, definitely. There’s definitely it’s like everyday life, some people you connect with, some you don’t, some you click with, some it’s hard to talk to, and nurses are no different.
Yeah. So, you find the nurse that you can click with.
Yeah, and I think they’re a little bit, and I hate to say this, but I think they’re a little bit more normal than the doctors. They’re more approachable, they don’t seem to be on a tower that looks down at you and that’s an aura type thing.
Yeah. So, what attributes did you notice about the nurses you were able to click with? So, they were approachable you said, they didn’t think they were better than you, or above you, what other attributes did they show that you liked?
I think the fact that it’s a bit more than a job to them. I think the fact that they’re actually providing care. And, you know, in a modern world where the care factor possibly has dissipated, to receive actual care from someone that you believe really is concerned about your wellbeing, that’s pretty special.
It is nice.
And you certainly, while the doctors in their eyes have your best interests …
That’s right. They’re on different time frames, aren’t they? And the nurse is there for 8 hours…
8 hours yep.
… and the doctor has shorter time frames, so the nurse is there longer so if they care it’s really important.
And I think the nurses will see shifts in your mood and shifts in maybe your wellbeing throughout a shift.
Yeah. Those little subtle shifts that’s right.
And if they know, you know, they’ll obviously know when you’re in a talkative mood and when you’re not.
When you’re giving them stick and when you’re not?
Yeah, that’s right.
So, if you’re not giving them stick you might be in a bit of pain.
And they’re sort of keeping an eye on that. Well going back to when you first got your injury, you said that you rescued someone from a car accident, so I’m wondering about the impact of that trauma on you at the time. So, while you were in hospital, you know, were you worried about that person, worried about that incident, did anyone come and talk to you about your emotional wellbeing after that incident?
No, that was something that I actually never, the thing I had considered ever since it happened was that person would not know that it even happened to me because I walked away from the incident and I knew I’d done something to my back but I got in my car and drove away. And to this day that person would not know something went wrong, and I dealt with that, that that was my choice to help them, and that you can’t blame other people, and I chose to get out and help.
That’s right, your natural instinct, you obviously care, as much as you like nurses caring for you, you actually are a caring person to go and put your life on the line like that. Yeah, so…
Yeah, and that’s a choice. And that’s why I move forward, saying yeah that’s happened, it’s been and gone, just get on with it, and I found the physio process really good as well, because I was, it was a younger guy and I think he was kind of used to people not listening to him and not taking him seriously.
Right, making a judgement because he was young, and … no?
I think a lot of people generally might take the easier option of surgery ….
*indiscernible as both talking*
And so, you believed in him?
And he believed in you back and look at your now. So, you keep on practicing what he, his advice.
Absolutely. And there are so many people that…
And how’s your back now?
I reckon my backs about 90%. It’s never going to be 100% but every day I …
But you’re mindful of what you can and can’t do?
To a degree I probably push it still, but I know that if I do the core exercises to maintain strength in my lower back that I’ve got a better chance. You can’t put yourself in cotton wool, you can’t hide in a corner, that’s not living. So, you can do what you can to strengthen it and then get on with life.
So, it sounds to me like you’ve had good experiences during your childhood where you’ve been supported during your different health episodes of different events, and it sounds like to me, you know, you’ve been through quite a lot and every time you’re sort of faced with a crisis, it sounds like to me that you treat it as an opportunity for personal growth and for moving forward you seem really quite resilient. And, would you put that, because you’ve got really good support networks, with your, you’ve got good family, what makes you so resilient to bounce back from these events and to keep going forward? Do you know what makes you so strong there?
I think there’s a, certainly an opportunity and I think the thing that we, the thing, I have a belief that the thing we fear the most is going to be our greatest learning, so and we hide from those greatest learnings every day. That you don’t go somewhere because you don’t want to have an awkward conversation, or you don’t, and those awkward conversations are actually going to teach you the most about yourself. So, any of these times when I might push something a bit too hard and end up with something that goes wrong, there’s a learning. That’s the first thing, is obviously don’t do it again by any means, do it differently, and the second thing is have trust in the people that are going to care for you. And that came about solely because of 5 years ago when my back was in a mess I had a team that helped and that didn’t head me down a road of surgery which to me wasn’t the answer, everybody’s back wears out sooner or later and I’m too young to go down that road, so I just think it’s given me a belief that the nursing staff, they were the ones that took me under their wing, one in particular, the rest of them were a support network there as well, and they care about what they do enough that it makes a big difference to the final outcome and moving forward if I go to hospital again I’ve got faith that I’ll be cared for.
Ok, great. Right what about, you were sharing with me privately, before this, about you know when that nurse took you under her wing and was advising you a certain pathway. We talked about, you know, what do you do if you’re a patient and you’re confronted with a situation where maybe the doctor that’s presenting to you might not be the best person for you, the process, would you like the nurse to have followed that process up a little bit more for, rather than put it onto you that the nurse actually knew the processes in place, if they weren’t happy with a particular health professional that that nurse needed to go through internal processes of sharing her concerns with the management of the hospital. How do you feel about how that nurse sort of put you on the spot there at that time?
I was actually quite confused because at that stage I was, the choices were left or right and I still hadn’t committed either way to either surgery or physio and work hard at strengthening your core muscles and let’s get back on track, because surgery was the easiest way.
So, would you have liked more information about other options, like other surgeons, or being put in a different location, like we’re in a rural, no, a metropolitan sort of city, sorry regional city, would you have liked an opportunity to then go to a metropolitan city to access surgeons there and see what their advice was for you? Would you have liked more options?
I think that was, that was going to be a plan B.
So, when I was first informed that maybe the treating doctor was not the best choice, there’s probably room for more explanation as to, as soon as I heard that this treating doctor wasn’t the best choice I only had one turn and that was turn right to physio, I actually eliminated the surgery just purely due to just hearing a bad report about the surgeon. So, if there was, the way I took that from there was that I would actually, because I’m quite a resilient person, I would fix myself through the support of the nurses and the physio and I would get good enough to get back into life and if there was a problem down the track then I would go to metropolitan to seek you know an alternative surgeon.
More information? Ok, that’s good. Alright.
So that definitely was a crossroad that was confronting, with limited, well I’ve got no knowledge of backs.
That’s right so you’re trying to yeah.
Got a fair bit now.
You don’t know what you don’t know. So, moving forward then, like, for our future nurses, what advice would you give them to help someone like you to receive better care? To make sure your care is of a standard that you would be happy with?
I think it’s important to understand that everybody, every bed, every patient, has their own story. Everyone is unique, everyone is more than likely going through a traumatic experience where they’re maybe not themselves in the first few days and that will come out once things are managed, but you do make a difference. And there’s an absolute mile of difference I think in a good experience to a bad one, and don’t think that one caring question is not going to make a difference because it might just open up a whole avenue of conversation that leads to a better outcome. But yeah, you make a difference and it’s made a huge difference on me, and I’m comfortable going into health care that I’ll be looked after.
Alright, lovely. Well, thanks Jack, for sharing your patient experience with us.
Not a problem, it’s been one of the biggest learnings I’ve had and what I didn’t know about before I know a lot about now, so, and I share that with other people that might have the experience as well, take the physio seriously, do all those things, and ask questions, don’t be afraid to …
Yeah, and I think it’s really important for the student nurses to realise that patients come in to the facility actually very knowledgeable people, very experienced in what they do and actually being experts in being the patient, in knowing how to improve patient care based on your experience. Cause sometimes I think nurses get very focused on the clinical events and sometimes we forget about you know what you might be privately worrying about in the bed, unless we’ve had that conversation, opened it up, then you know we might just think we’re doing good care because we are doing obs and you’re getting washed, and you’re getting your pain relief, but you could be secretly worrying about something.
Absolutely and there’s, that’s in every walk of life too. Going about what you do every day and doing the paperwork, and the paperwork trail is enormous in every profession, don’t ever forget about the personal bit cause the personal bit is what makes the difference. Everybody can do the paperwork, but the personal bit’s going to make you the better nurse.
That’s right. Yeah, and do you think that’s what makes the patient experience so, long after you’ve left that episode, that was 5 years ago now, so what stays with you is the experience right, those memories of how that nurse made you feel, how the physio made you feel, the doctor, so they’re long lasting those feelings that rapport that was built, would you agree or not?
Absolutely, you’ll never remember what was written on your chart, you’ll never remember anything technical, you won’t remember word for word what they said but you’ll always remember how they made you feel.
So, having a friendly, caring, way of being with the patient’s really important, and establishing that relationship and asking those questions and maybe revealing a little bit about yourself that’s appropriate just to help get that relationship established which is important yeah?
It’s a trust. It’s a trust, it’s a two-way street and yeah you’re in a traumatic stage where you need a fair bit of trust happening.
That’s right. Ok, lovely, well thank you.
No problem at all. Thank you.