The cheese has moved…
In the book Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, two mice and two little men, called Hem and Haw, lived in a maze and every day looked for cheese. Every day the little men wore their running shoes and set out across the maze, looking for cheese until, one day, they got to a station full of cheese. This was station C.
Having found station C, life for Hem and Haw took a fantastic turn for the better. They did not need to channel energy towards fetching cheese anymore…
They did not quite understand where the cheese came from or who actually put it there. They simply took the station for granted and just assumed it would be there, forever. They would sometimes share the cheese, sometimes not. It was theirs and Hem’s and Haw’s confidence grew into somewhat arrogance of success. They became so comfortable that they hardly remembered their past, without station C.
One day, they went as usual to station C and there was no cheese. They spent days trying to see what to do and analysing what went wrong. One thing was clear, it was never their fault that this happened… they had simply ate the cheese they found, they had done nothing more, or nothing less! It was not their fault that there was no cheese at the station now!
They accused everyone, including the mice, of stealing it. Still, every day they went back to station C until they started to get weaker and hungrier. They started to argue between themselves.
They then decided that, maybe, someone had hid it behind the wall, so they made a hole in the wall. But all they finished up with was a hole and no cheese. They then decided to sit and see what happened, yet, all that happened was that they got weaker and more irritable.
Until, one day, Haw exclaimed that they could not keep doing the same things over and over again and wonder why things didn’t get any better. So he searched for his running shoes and decided to go out of the maze and search for cheese. Hem dissuaded him with fear, overwhelmed with uncertainty of what lay beyond the maze but Haw was determined and went out to look for cheese!
Haw finally found a better cheese station, full of so many different types of cheese… more than he could ever wish for.
Haw now knew that old methods did not lead you to new cheese. He was convinced of this but persuading Hem to change his ways and venture out in the same way he did was a long shot to strive for. Perhaps, Hem thought, he need not budge from his old ways… however Haw knew that Hem had to find his own way, beyond his comforts and past fears. No one else could do it for him or talk him into it. He somehow had to see the advantage of changing himself.
Haw knew however that he had left Hem a trail to find his way if he could just read the handwriting on the wall.
Five years ago, nurses found a station C at Mater Dei Hospital. After years of waiting at St Luke’s Hospital, Mater Dei provided a new lease of life for nurses. A fresh start to work in enhanced comfort in a pleasant environment was presented to nurses then. Optimal nursing care delivery could now be more easily accommodated.
Five years on, it is time for nurses to seek to replenish station C, or search for other stations, because initial sources and supplies that secure optimal care delivery have started to dwindle. The world has changed a lot in five years.
Economic gloom keeps hovering, hence, cost considerations remain at the top of each list of recommendations and initiatives, health care innovations and advances persist in taking huge leaps and those working in health care continue to develop, extend and expand their respective roles. The expectations of the end user have also changed and have gone to other levels.
The cheese has thus moved!
All these factors make up a reality that obliges the nurses to move on and seek and take up new cheese. The nurses at Mater Dei are able to make this “move”. They are indeed already engaged and committed to doing so.
Nurses at Mater Dei have been unfailingly rising to new (dynamic) challenges of delivering care within new organisational frameworks, new equipment, new techniques, new interventions, new systems and approaches to care.
This is all to the nurses’ own credit and the respective managerial and administrative personnel who lead and support them. Nurses at Mater Dei are to be commended for this but, moreover, nurses at Mater Dei need to be supported (far stronger) towards further ventures in search of further new cheese!
Nurses have to keep moving because located supplies of cheese will continue to move and disappear too! The challenges are high, there is no denying that! Support for these great nurses, who are doing their level best, needs to equal the challenges.
Mater Dei’s nurse management is determined with this way of thinking. This was the message at a conference held among the nurse management tier of Mater Dei last month. The conference did not deal with nurses’ shortages, work conditions and salaries. Although these factors are important to the nurses, they are not what the real nurses on the wards and departments at Mater Dei exclusively care about. The conference proved this.
We discussed values; the core values which underpin the nurses’ set strategy towards enhanced care, that which matters to nurses in delivering care, concentrating on areas such as documentation, decreased pressure ulcers and patient-centred care. Workshops held on this day discussed how these various issues would be tackled. The Nursing Directorate within Mater Dei is committed to take this agenda forward in the name of better care of the patient.
We all know that the cheese has moved and will keep moving… and we are all determined to find the courage to overcome fears of change and to keep chasing and finding the new supplies of new cheeses. We owe it to our patients!
May 12 was the International Day of Nurses. In commemorating this landmark day in the nursing calendar, I chose to share these thoughts regarding the nurses at Mater Dei with the public, outside the walls of the hospital. I do so not in defence of the nurses at the hospital, who often receive unfavourable “coverage” in the public arena, but to sing their deserved praises to the public. I trust you will join my tune.
The author is director of nursing and midwifery services at Mater Dei Hospital.