Episode 1: ‘Our Voices in the NHS’ Podcast
Human Connection and its Power
The first episode of “Our Voices”, a new podcast that tells the stories of frontline healthcare workers in their own words, centres around one-time “nurse of the year” Joan Pons Laplana.
Joan is an intensive care nurse who was born in Barcelona and travelled to work in the UK after experiencing a lack of job opportunities in his native land.
He describes arriving in the UK 20 years ago with £50 in his pocket and a “suitcase full of dreams”.
George Cloney as Dr Douglas from ‘ER’ However, when he arrived at work, he discovered that there were more challenges than he had been prepared for, particularly with the accent of the local people in the city of Sheffield where he was working:
“They don’t speak English here in Sheffield, they speak Yorkshire; I couldn’t understand anything.”
As a result, Joan found himself working in the intensive care department where interaction with patients would be limited.
But the language issues continued as Joan found it difficult to understand the instructions given to him by the doctors.
Fortunately, another nurse he worked with, named Jo, was able to speak Spanish and she helped to translate the doctor’s orders.
What began as a working relationship developed into a friendship. Soon after, they fell in love, got married and later had children.
That the connection Joan experienced with Jo at work continued into his private life. This is not a surprise when you consider Joan’s attitude to nursing:
“Human connection is the most important thing… it is more powerful than any drug, or any machine…there’s nothing more powerful that you can do in life than making a difference to somebody else.”
Joan, like many others working at NHS, often feel this connection while taking care of their patients.
Joan demonstrated this directly when he began caring for a patient. This patient had a motorcycle accident and had shown very little progress on the A&E ward.
On the first day, Joan went to care for the man, the patient made an unexpected request: he wanted to see out of the window.
Joan at first told the man that this would be impossible. The number of machines and wires which were required to keep the man stable made it look impossible.
However, on the second day, Joan decided that he would do all he could to help the man. After 4 hours of shifting and manoeuvring the healthcare equipment, the patient’s request was fulfilled.
Once the patient was able to see out of the window, he asked Joan to sit next to him. Then followed a moment that would change both his life and his attitude to nursing:
“I sat on his bed, we held hands and we were totally silent and suddenly he started crying, I started crying also, we didn’t say anything and something magical happened at that moment because from that moment, he recovered.”
In less than a week a patient who had seemed as if he was destined to remain in intensive care, rapidly began to improve. He was transferred out of the A&E unit.
It was at this point that Joan truly appreciated the value and power of patient-centered care and human connection.
“That’s when I fell in love with nursing and the power of making a difference.”