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PROactive Management of Integrated

Services & Environments


What‘s In a Name?

Sarah Wilson (S3)

I feel strongly that names are important and always call patients by their names.  The significance of a name can be under estimated, but a name holds a person’s experience of life.  Calling patients by their name is important because:

Patients that we come across may have only heard their name in negative and sometimes in very abusive ways.  

Hearing your name in a positive way and in a safe context makes you feel like a person who has a place in the world.

Some patients may only respond to hearing their name if it is said aggressively or be fearful of responding.

This may sound like a small thing but can play a huge part in someone’s life.  That’s why it’s important to make a conscious effort to remember names.  It’s our job as professionals to help patients hear their name in a positive friendly way, to learn that they can respond without fear.  This can be as simple as always saying hello and referring to a person’s name.  For some, this may be the first time they have heard their name said in a pleasant caring way.

To love yourself surely starts with your name. If you don’t love your name how can you ever begin to love yourself?

Reducing Mealtime Anxiety

Sarah Wilson (S3)

As an eating disorder ward, we find mealtimes are the most anxious times for patients.  One way to reduce anxiety is by moving the focus of attention away from food.  This can be done by:

Staff creating a relaxed atmosphere, distracting and engaging patients through a quiz, playing games (A to Z games), or by just general chatting about everyday occurrences.  This may at times prove difficult as patients find it hard to contribute, but from the feedback I have received, they like to just listen and join in when they feel able.

Trying not to feel anxious yourself as this will be picked up by the patients.

Trying to eat with patients at the table.  

When a meal plan goes up the patient normally has trouble with the guilt and fear of eating more. Ask if they want to sit near staff for support. Don’t just assume you know the answer.

Friendly glances around the table. Just because you may not be sat with someone you can still look at them and a reassuring smile maybe all they need to continue with the meal.

If a patient does get distressed it’s helpful to remove them from the room and talk to them away from others, then go back when they feel able. Don’t ignore their tears and let the anxiety build up.

Although it can be difficult to talk when you get no or very little response from patients, talking to them at their most anxious time helps build up a strong relationship, with the staff member seen as  non-threatening.  It’s normally only staff that join in, but it is such a pleasure when you do get the odd answer from a patient.

It helps distract patients from thinking about food before, during and after a meal.  Beforehand, patients think about what games and quizzes they can come up with for mealtimes. Often I come into meals to find things they have printed out for me to read or do. Creating distractions and a relaxed atmosphere means that patients feel less anxious about coming into the room. Many have said that just listening to a conversation during a meal takes their mind off what they and others are eating.  Talk of everyday life helps show there is life to be had and helps them to understand the benefits of getting better. A more relaxed mealtime reduces stress post meal. This is a time where patients have to sit for an hour after they have eaten so they do not make themselves sick or do exercise.  Patients have said that if mealtimes go well they can then focus on the positives about getting better.

Eating Disorder Ward (S3)