Friday, 23 December 2011

As some of us break up for the festive holidays, I wanted to wish readers of this blog a happy time. I do appreciate that some of you will be working though. In our university we have a December graduation and it is always with pride and pleasure that I sit on the stage with my colleagues as we watch our students cross the same stage and be awarded their degree. The three or four years that the students have been on our courses seems to fly by for us - not sure if it is always the same for the students - and we can see the changes in them over that time. We have 'graduation stories' here, and it's interesting to hear about the challenges that some of the students deal with as they work their way through the course. I am amazed and humbled by their ability to juggle the challenges of the course with the personal circumstances that must take so much time in their lives. My PhD showed that some students manage these challenges and successfully complete (first year), while others find that they need to make the decision to leave. Amongst my conclusions was that (rather obviously) those who were highly motivated towards the profession were much more likely to stay than those who were ambivalent about nursing as a career. This issue is of real interest to me as I work with colleagues on a NES-funded project on selection processes for student nurses and midwives. Back to the graduation, and it is always a high point to end the year for those who have graduated and us as their lecturers.
Happy Christmas all!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

An inspirational lecture by Professor Brendan McCormack of the University of Ulster ('Human flourishing through nursing research and development: seeing, appreciating, and making use of what is right in front of us) has set me thinking. The focus of his research is on the person at the centre of the care experience, and his lecture uses a number of examples of patient/carer voices that really bring home to the listener what it means to be on the receiving end of care. For me, it is this kind of research that makes a massive impact on the educational experience of student nurses. A couple of personal examples illustrate what I mean by this:

Gwen is a newly-qualified nurse who had a challenging educational pathway for a number of reasons. One of these reasons is that she developed breast cancer as a third year student. She is one of the most inspirational people I have met - genuinely. She quietly got on with her treatment, and then came back to our university and successfully completed her course. As well as this, she has developed a 'lecture' where she talks to our students about what it meant to her to be on the receiving end of care - what made it a 'good' experience and what made things harder for her. Gwen and I have written an article about her work with our students, and the ripple effect (as she calls it) of her shared reflective patient journey - the impact that her experience has had on the people that she has spoken to, the ones they have spoken to...... and so on. The article is in press and I will make sure I let readers of this blog know about it when it is published - Gwen is an eloquent writer.

A second example relates to my own experiences as a relative of someone who is on the receiving end of care on a fairly regular basis. My daughter has epilepsy and, although she has been fit-free for around 3 months now (touch wood!!), she has had a difficult few years. We have received amazing care from her specialist nurse and her consultant. And we had reasonable care when she was admitted this year in status. When she was taken into A&E with a smashed face following a fit in the High Street, care was ok. But what makes the difference is not the technical care (can't fault it), rather the artistry of care - the demonstration of care through the use of language, touch, a look. When that is missing, it makes one feel invisible and not important.

My aim is to help our students to understand how we can ensure that patients, relatives and their carers feel visible and important.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Always Events

The Picker Institute’s website provides a refreshing view of patient care. Discussing ‘Always Events’ they focus (rather obviously) on the things that one should always do when working with patients. The aim is to optimize patient care through events that are significant (i.e. fundamental to patient care), evidence-based, measurable and affordable (i.e. things that the organization can do without major resource implications). The focus on patient safety is absolutely crucial in the effort to improve patient care, but a renewed effort to meaningfully engage with patients and others to determine what should always be in place is energizing. Unsurprisingly, the key areas in which patients ask for Always Events include: respect; coordination and integration of care; information, communication and education; physical comfort. I am sure we would all say that we espouse these values and approaches to care, and in our relationships with students. For me, the Picker Institute’s work is a timely reminder as I work with my colleagues to develop the pre-registration nursing curriculum – with the person (patient, student) – at the centre of the experience.