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  • Writer's pictureLilian Chiwera


This post is shaped by discussions we have been having in recent weeks with friends, colleagues and family. At any one point in life, we all have various questions and thoughts including challenges. How can one remain positive and optimistic?

I thought of questions people may be asking themselves daily. In fact I will start by posing a question (s) - how are you doing today? How is everyone in life treating you? How do you view the world and everything that’s happening right now? Did the nurse or doctor treat you right today? What do you think of the way decisions are being made around here? How did your son or daughter fare in their examination results? How is your family? Do you have enough finances to cover everything you need this month? Can you afford to go out with your friends this weekend? You’ve spent 10 more minutes on your break again today, what’s wrong with you? Why were you late today? Please don’t tell me it was a train delay again today, and so on…… So, how are you doing today? I wonder how many people genuinely ask each other this question... When I say people, I'm including us healthcare professionals. We are humans like everyone else and are expected to deliver safe/harm free compassionate care consistently whilst asking ourselves some or all of the questions above.

So, what keeps them/us going even when we have so many thoughts or questions. Who is brave enough to ask a question that may ‘open a can of worms’? For those who know me well, you know that I want everyone to always be lovely and kind around each other. If I hear anyone saying a bad word about someone, I almost go into a panic mode. It bothers me so much and always leaves me wondering why it's so hard for people to just be nice to each other. I know I can't possibly change the world but will always try my best. I feel KINDNESS GOES A LONG WAY! It can change someone’s day or attitude which consequently improves performance. I'll say it again as I always do, BE KIND, BE KIND, BE KIND, BE KIND and please don’t fake it because people will know and will be hurt even more if they're already suffering. If you manage people, a compassionate leadership approach is the way to go.

Well, in most of my talks, I’ve always encouraged people to take care of themselves first to be effective…

I can't just preach to others without me being converted first so I have had the opportunity to refill my cup. Plenty of time out to reflect and self-care recently and am feeling wonderful. Wow, what you discover when you take time out is incredible. I had no idea (even though I talk about it all the time) how much I have achieved in surgical site infection (SSI) surveillance and prevention in the last few years. I am one of the pioneers of something that’s going to become BIG! A patient safety initiative that has already changed many people’s lives and one that’s going give lots more patients a positive surgical experience. I can’t just take that for granted, it’s a huge achievement for me and I’m now beginning to pat myself on the back more for it. I am PROUD! Yes, that’s what we learnt during the Florence Nightingale Foundation Leadership development programme, my reflection here. I’m even surprised myself how I managed to achieve what I have achieved so far! Of course, I could not have done it without the support of so many wonderful managers / family and friends. I like this scripture very much: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”. I’m not saying that I’m an angel but the kindness of some people got me to where I am today. Now I vow to be kind, show love and always be supportive to everyone whom I meet in life. I acknowledge that I am not perfect but will try my very best every time and will keep reminding myself.

One thing that has made me the person I am today is a belief that stress will not change any aspect of whatever life challenges I may be going through at any given time. Yes, I refuse to be stressed although I must acknowledge there’s been at least two occasions I remember being so stressed despite me knowing it wasn’t going to change my circumstances. Something else that keeps me going is a smile. I smile a lot, and I can’t quite understand how I do it because I have imperfect teeth 😊. Well, I can’t change my teeth and even if I wanted to I just don’t have the money for it. I do challenge those with perfect teeth to beat me on this one (smile) loool for it makes a big difference to your wellbeing! I also love nature, so I’ve visited lots of parks, seaside locations and mountain tops recently and it’s done me a lots of good. You should try it….

Ok Lilian, enough about you... what about the global surgical site infection surveillance and prevention agenda? There’s lots of work for us all to do. I acknowledge the huge interest in SSI surveillance and prevention now and very welcome everyone who’s coming to join forces. My extensive Twitter campaigns have always been aimed at raising the profile of SSI prevention and I think I have even exceeded expectations over the years. I love it, I’m beyond proud! Yes things have been extremely challenging for us all with the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (UK updates and Global picture) especially now with the emergence of variants of concern. Everyone is exhausted physically and emotionally but we must carry on. We will or perhaps I should say, I will be patient, kind and compassionate as we rebuild our SSI surveillance and prevention services. Check out my previous blog on the importance of an increased focus on #humanfactors and/or #ergonomics.

From recent discussions with others within and outside healthcare, I feel it's so important for us to look after each other and keep asking the question: how are you doing today? We cannot afford to have any of our colleagues, friends, family and patients suffer alone. We also can't afford to have our patients getting avoidable surgical site infections. Kindness, love and compassion is free so let it always pour out of us. Take time out if you need to so you can refill your cup, I’m now trying to lead on this. We must Get It Right First Time for our patients and staff and me of course. So I leave you with the same question I’ve been asking throughout HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY?


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