THE SONGS OF A THOUSAND GENTLE SOULS

I sat with 12 of the doctors, nurses and therapists on the ward and heard some of their stories of passion, life, medicine and dedication to their work.

There were stories of connection - developing bonds with patients and families. Getting to know people in one of the most vulnerable times in their life. Offering simple gestures that bring comfort and care when medicine can only do so much.

There were stories of teamwork - respect and honour shared amongst the team, bringing the very best care to their patients, working from their respective areas of expertise.

There were stories of challenge, empathy and emotional sustainability - feeling the realities of the end of life experience; holding space for grief and loss; gaining insights into the process and needs of patients and their families, without losing one's own sense of balance and objectivity. 

That area was probably the most interesting and complex that arose amongst these staff Pressing Sessions. The line between caring too much and not enough is a thin one - there is a spectrum of connection and detachment that must be navigated on an almost daily basis. It is natural for a practitioner to feel emotions in response to the work they do and the human beings they engage with. To not feel anything would mean to lack empathy and authentic understanding - but to feel too much, to become to entrenched in the experience of a patient and their family can cloud judgement and lead to burn out.

It was really interesting to hear about the different ways that the team dealt with this aspect of their work. Coping mechanisms, wellness techniques and debriefing sessions all paid a crucial role in the sustainability of care on the ward.