In promoting the ‘Don’t Call Me Mum’ initiative and asking practitioners to #CallMe, I often hear the excuse that a hospital professional is simply too busy.

It is easy in the bustle of the hospital ward to mistakenly regard the details as unimportant. Like the panoramic view of any hospital stay might include the admission date, the treatment and discharge. It isn’t until you step closer and the days are riddled with peaks and troughs. Small and big moments which create a cocktail of incidences form a particularly daunting rollercoaster. It isn’t until you sense the enormity of the mundane that we can see the importance of the seemingly insignificant.

A parent’s hospital updates might say,

He’s getting better”

“Doing well”

“It’s been a success”

These statements are likely to be true. They are honest, broad strokes of the panoramic view of a specific chapter in a story. 

But step closer to the scene.

A little nearer,

a bit more,

just one more step so that you can smell the hospital soap mixed with bleach and stale, crisp linen. 


That’s it. 

Look close enough and between the lines of sweeping statements lie particular details;

Vomiting, Young man lying in a hospital bed in HDU recovering from spinal surgery. He is wearing an eye mask that looks like a sheep's face and his hospital bed is surrounded by medial equipment.


thumbs up from the consultant,

concerned looks from the nurse, 

sitting up,

sitting out,


Isolation grips like a vice.

Small steps,

occasional smiles,

glimmers of hope, 

sodden bed clothes, 


mouth care,


Isolation swallows you whole.

Pressure area care,

stained pillow cases,

postural care,





Isolation from the humanity I am beyond these hospital walls.


Attentive care,

real connection,

hours of crying in discomfort, 

moments of delight,



alarms …

a smile, a joke, the human touch of a kind word.

The complexity of care grows as more and more professionals build their own particular web.

The merry-go-round of juggling treatments, complications and medications. 

Before long, prescriptions are written to tackle the side effects of newly-added medications. 

Then at two in the morning, in the fog of hospital fatigue, the puzzle becomes too complicated.

The new side effects

requiring another kind of treatment

prescribed for the medicine

given for the ramifications of the original medication

set up for the mammoth consequences of the original monstrous surgery. 

Each bump and dip on the daily hospital rollercoaster is fizzing and tingling with every kind of emotion.

Yet amidst the breath holding, incidences of kindness pierce loneliness and isolation like a knife. 

Fear and anxiety about the unpredictable future (or next hour) ripple constantly under the surface, only drowned by the ebb and flow of the hospital’s rhythmical 24-hour clock. 

Effective communication isn’t an added extra, it is the heartbeat of caring well.

Supporting families with personalised care
Training practitioners in personalised care
Influencing policy makers about personalised care