I’ve been in hospital for a stay of eight days. Of course with my mind set, all the criticisms of the medical model come to the fore. A bit unfair really, as this is a medical setting. However, feeling sick and vulnerable and worried about the smallest things becomes one’s focus. One still wants to be independent, but most of us love being helped from time to time and tucked into bed so to speak. So this is the edge of universal: a fine line.

Mostly I must admire the embracing of the regimented life by the nursing staff: their workdays are much longer than most people’s, and they seem to display a cheerfulness that is unbelievable. The ordinary equipment that is used in the wards is not that convenient for the staff: the clutter that has to be moved around every day, all day, and I’m not sure that all of these actually have a home, or if they’re just transient. The architect could have had some input there, but of course, more space requirements then lead to longer circulation routes and so forth. I just hope that the architectural specialists who design these also incorporate some universal design principles. It is really amazing that these nursing routines of hierarchy and management have stayed the same for over 100 years! There are sound principles attached to all of the routines.

There are now many more assistive devices for the nurses, like taking your temperature with a gadget in your ear, being able to tilt the beds in all directions, and take them all the way into the operating theatre instead of having a separate gurney for this. All these things go with a price tag: many require a great deal of maintenance, which is not done regularly enough. One of the things I absolutely hate in this environment is the strong door closer, which requires heavy force and often more than one person to keep them open. Of course the finding your way isn’t ideal either, with the general routing to the X-ray department going through the main entrance foyer! I know much of this is inherited, but a lot is just to done without thinking.

When one realises the complications of keeping this animal alive and functioning properly 24/7 it is quite amazing how well these institutions do.

The other bone of contention in the hospital environment is the visitors to the patients. The parking requirements in many of our private hospitals are enormous, and of course the doctors must have priority. I see that many hospitals even have a shuttle service from the parking to the various departments. However, even finding your vehicle is not easy, as these facilities are hardly ever planned to grow at the rate that they do, and one is looking for the right department as well as the odd open parking space at the same time. Being able to park on the level is also important, as it is really difficult to get into and out of vehicles, which are parked on the slope. This is a 24-hour beast too, so the whole site has to be safe and manageable all the time.

The cleaning staff is on duty day and night, with different shifts, as for the nursing staff, and this is no easy job where the same strict routines have to be adhered to.

Altogether I’m pleased to be back home safe, and ready to take on the world again.