Belgian nurse, Liesbeth Moortgat believes that her job is as much about partnership, and building human relationships, as it is about medical care. “When I started out as a nurse, I believed I was there to rescue people. That is how we were all trained,” she says, “but I’ve learned that what patients need most is someone to listen to them, and to accompany them throughout their illness”. Patients are, she points out "just people, like the rest of us".
Liesbeth’s collaborative approach secured her place as a #Europeanhero. For years, Inge Vandelanoote, who nominated her, had been putting a brave face on her crippling inflammatory bowel disease. It wasn’t until Liesbeth told her that it was ok to cry that she opened up about the realities of her condition, which in turn paved the way for treatment.
Now the two women are firm friends. Inge describes Liesbeth not just as a nurse, but as a “mum, wife, and understanding friend”. They even work together to raise awareness of the benefits of Liesbeth’s approach to nursing.
Listening as learning
Sometimes listening can completely change the perspective a nurse has on a disease. For example, Liesbeth says that her assumption had always been that someone with a stoma would want it removed straight away, just as she would herself. But when she talked to one patient, she discovered that her stoma had meant that she no longer needed to take medication for her allergy to sunlight. The stoma was a positive force in her life, and she didn't want it removed.
How does Liesbeth find the time to listen to all her patients in this way? “I believe that you can do a complex job well and listen at the same time,” she says. Indeed, she argues that it is more efficient that way: “if we invest some time in our patients, it always yields a return in the future”.
Tell us about the #Europeanheroes you know
Euronews wants to hear from #Europeanheroes like Liesbeth: ordinary people doing ordinary jobs who make a difference. If you know someone like this, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org