EDMONTON – What’s the difference between care and caring? When we’re sick, we turn to medical professionals for health care, but it’s often their caring actions that make a horrible experience a little more tolerable.
Hospitals are not fun places to be. Care and caring. If we’re lucky, we get both. The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation helped create a video that showcases the two in action.
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It was based on a real event; a day when two elderly patients were admitted to the hospital separately for palliative care. Hospital staff soon discovered they were married.
Throughout the day, nurses, doctors and support staff did a series of small, thoughtful actions with one simple goal: make sure the couple was together. Health care workers took time to move them into the same room, pushed their beds together, and gave their loved ones a quiet space to say goodbye.
“A lot of people have said the video is making them cry,” said Sharlene Rutherford, who helped produce the video with the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.
“It is a sad video, but through the sadness, there’s joy because it’s a love story.”
That’s why Rutherford believes people are responding to the video the way they are.
“It’s a beautiful love story about a couple who find themselves, at the end of their lives, in a place where there can be sadness and where it can be difficult and that’s a hospital. But because of the kindness and the caring of the staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, it still remains a beautiful love story right to the end.”
(Video credit: YouTube: Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation)
The video was posted on YouTube, but it was when it was shared on Facebook that it really started to spread. A post by New York-based Love What Matters sharing the video had been viewed more than 350,000 times as of Friday afternoon.
Rutherford says the foundation has spoken to the family since the video took off, and they are so happy it is resonating with others.
“They are just over the moon and so grateful that the love of their parents is being honoured in this way,” she said.
While the couple’s incredible bond is one part of the story, Rutherford says the other part is the special care taken by the hospital staff.
“I hope it sends the message that, while this is a hospital where you will receive excellent care, what people truly remember is the caring; the caring way a nurse approached you, spoke to you, looked you in the eye, took the time to hear you, to talk to you.”
Improving the patient experience has been a goal of the Royal Alex’s; providing care along with caring.
“We want to just acknowledge the teams that we work with and the great care they deliver and to celebrate that,” Medical Director Dr. Curtis Johnston said.
“But it’s also important for us to take an example of great work and to reflect on it as individuals, and say… ‘What could I do differently that would demonstrate caring?’ in addition to providing that great care.”
Caring, empathy, and compassion become especially important in palliative care situations, says Johnston, when there’s very little to be offered from a medical standpoint. This couple offered the team at the Royal Alex a chance to provide something different – but just as significant.
“This was an unusual situation where a couple both get admitted to the hospital at the same time,” Johnston said. “[It was] a very difficult time for the family and we just had the privilege of being part of that journey with them and trying to make that journey as great an experience it could be, even under the circumstances.”
WATCH: It’s a video that’s taking off on Facebook and it comes from a hospital right here in Edmonton. Emily Mertz has the story.