The challenges of patient care

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

ALL it took for a group of nursing students was a short exposure to a psychiatric ward to change the way they looked at the different "world" of the mentally-challenged patients.

Angeline Zamora, 20, a nursing intern of University of Mindanao-Tagum, said their internship at the Southern Philippines Medical Center-Institute of Psychology and Behavioral Medicine (SPMC-IPBM) helped her to understand better those patients with mental disorders.

Although there was an orientation prior to the internship, she said this seemed to be not enough because actual experience was something cannot be taught in the four corners of a classroom.


Zamora admitted that she feared dealing with those patients, but not until her exposure had taught her the best way to deal with them.

"At first murag difficult sa part kay first time mag-deal og ingon ana na patient kay nagexpect me harmful sila tapos harmless diay (It was difficult at first because we thought they are harmful but they not)," she said.

For his part, King Jopeth Macasarte, UM-Tagum nursing intern, said a two-week exposure widened his understanding and patience for the people with mental conditions.

He was surprised to learn that even these people, despite their condition, are longing for the love of their families.

"Although ingon ana sila, naga-longing gihapun sila sa ilang family, ma-miss gihapun nila (Although they are in that condition, they are longing for their families)," she said.

Every intern was assigned to one patient. Each of them had tasks to do from the start until the end of their internship.

Zamora said all of them had to make sure that the hygiene of the patients was always in check by giving them a good bath every day.

"Kada buntag magpaligo, gina-check ang hygiene. Toothbrush-an namo sila before mag-start ang activities (Every morning, we give them bath to maintain good hygiene. We also brush their teeth before we start the activities)," Macasarte added.

All interns were also making separate activities in the morning (9 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and another set in the afternoon (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.) so that the patients would also feel that they were well taken care of.

Zamora explained that a different approach had to be taken to every patient, especially those with worse conditions.

"As student, gina encourage sila nga moparticipate para dili nila mafeel nga lonely sila kanang lahi sila sa uban (We encourage them to participate so that they won't think they are alone)," she said.

"But, there are instances when they refused to cooperate. If they want to cry, we let them be," she said.

She said they did not force them to cooperate, if they refused to.

Their exposure was not easy, especially not when they had to deal with the mood swings of the patients. These instances compelled them to extend their patience by leaps and bounds.

However, there were two clinical instructors who went with them for their two-week exposure.

Rhodella Te, one of the clinical instructors of UM-Tagum, said the exposure was the students’ applications of the skills learned in school.

"This will teach them how to deal with the mentally-challenged people, as required by 'Maladaptive Patterns of Behavior' (subject) embedded in the program," she added.

Prior, they gave them lectures on what should they expect during the whole duration of their internship.

"We orient them on the system, delivery of care, set-up and process," she said.

Te said the best approach is to treat them in just the same manner they treat their friends, and father and mother.

"Same as kung mo-handle ka og normal person, although kailangan nimo i-double or i-triple imong patience og acceptance mismo kay dili man nato na sila ma-blame ngano ing-ana na sila (You handle them like a normal person, although you have to double, or even triple, your patience and acceptance because you can't blame them why they are like that)," she said.

After this two-week exposure, students will have to undergo stress debriefing to be conducted by the school.

Lingap Center

There are also a total of 25 mentally-challenged individuals under the care of Lingap Center for the Mentally-Challenged children in Tugbok District. Of those, 11 were brought to SPMC-IPBM recently for the annual check-up.

Daryl Santos, a center nurse, said patients who cannot be accommodated at the SPMC-IPBM and those who were lost with their families are given shelter at the Lingap Center, which has in-house social workers and house parents who provide parental care.

"Naay mga requirements na kailangan para dawaton didto sa center (There are requirements needed before they are admitted to the center)," he said. The center head and social worker make the assessment of the patient's case.

Santos said another goal of the center is to find the families whom the patients got separated with.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 08, 2014.

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