How One Epic Act of Kindness Brought Tears to a Man’s Eyes

EPIC Nurses on the Flanagan Rehab Ward:  Endorsed Enrolled Nurse Jayne Pini, Associate Nurse Unit Manager Lindy Gray, Nurse Unit Manager Suzanne McArthur and Endorsed Enrolled Nurse Donna Dewar.
Photo by Jake Lynch/BRHS


Turns out all he really wanted was a shave.

This story happened earlier this year. The man was a patient in our Tambo Ward, and he’d been with us for five days.

In between visits with doctors, nurses and various staff for his care and treatment, he watches quietly as the busy nurses hustle from room to room around the ward.

Then one day a new nurse starts her shift. She takes a moment to sit down next to the man.

And she asks him something that, until then, no one else had.

“What matters to you right now?”

“Nothing,” he says. “I’m okay.”

The nurse asks again.

Tears of gratitude stream down the man’s face.
The nurse sheds a few, too.

“So, nothing is on your mind right at this moment?”

The man hesitates.

“Well, I’d love a shave. I’ve not had one in five days, and I didn’t want to bother the nurses as they are so busy.”

The nurse goes off to get the supplies, and a few moments later returns and assists the man with a shave.

Tears of gratitude stream down the man’s face. The nurse sheds a few, too.

That one simple act made all the difference to this patient, but if it hadn’t been for that one question – “What matters to you right now?” – we would have missed the opportunity to make a real difference in his care and treatment.

Asking “What matters to you right now?” is one of the core tenets of EPIC Nurses, an approach to patient-centred care that our nurses adopted in 2018.

EPIC stands for Engaging Patients In Care. But it’s more than just another organisational acronym. It’s about making sure we are always respectful of, and responsive to, the preferences, needs and values of patients and their families.

“It’s quite powerful what happens when you ask someone something as simple as ‘what matters to you right now?’” says Julie Lawrence, who after a long career as Registered Nurse is now our Improvement and Innovation Advisor. “It empowers the patient to take an active role in their care, to make sure they know that their comfort and peace of mind is a priority for us, and that we’re listening. We are already seeing results from this small, but significant, change in our everyday philosophy.”

It has been shown that when healthcare providers work in partnership with patients and families, the quality of health care, and the patient experience, improves.

There’s also a positive impact for the health organisation and staff. For example, nurses have noticed a reduction in the number of bell calls from patients because their needs are being met in advance.

As part of our commitment to listening and being attentive to feedback from our patients and visitors, we’re always eager to hear about your experience with BRHS. Reach out to us now at