Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Reflections on caring - learning for education

My daughter has just been discharged after a short emergency stay in hospital. As always, it is absolutely fascinating to experience care from the other side and I always learn so much - both from what I have seen done very well and from those aspects of the experience that I think could have been done better. This experience led me to reflect (in the car on the way home) about the place of experience in student learning. There is much out there where patient stories provide meaningful accounts that enable learning (for example Patient Voices which I think I have mentioned here before) and I have used these kinds of resources effectively with students. But what about our own experiences - is there a place for us to use these experiences in some way to facilitate learning? I don't advocate that we should stand in front of a group of students and tell them about particular personal situations, but the learning that I have gained should be of some use, shouldn't it?

What I learnt over the past few days (things that I already knew but which were illuminated during this time):

  • the way in which nurses speak to relatives on the phone (I was on holiday in Greece at the time of my daughter's admission) is so important. Letting the relative know that they are welcome to contact the ward at any time is so reassuring.
  • providing information to the patient (and repeating that information if needed) with patience is crucial to the feeling of security in an alien environment.
  • appearing to have time to answer questions etc at the point of discharge empowers both the patient and the relative.
All of these are small things but indicate the care and compassion that I have spoken about before on my blog. Being present in a ward (as a visitor) exposed me to the day-to-day interactions and actions of the nurses and others in a way that is so powerful. In England the Department of Health has developed a consultation/discussion document which aims to embed a culture of compassion (amongst other things) within nursing and other healthcare. I don't think there will be many things in the document that we could disagree with particularly - but what I want to do is really think about the proposals for the enactment of the intentions/vision. How can we make sure that the nurse provides a close interaction with the patient and the relative at point of discharge for example? And how can we ensure that the education that we offer enables students to work with patients and others so that they are empowered partners in the care experience?

Friday, 14 September 2012

Late winter sunshine - an academic's break

I am just preparing for my last-gasp 'summer' break - Kefalonia to set me up for the winter. I love  late summer sun and sea leaving me energised. I've got a few things to think about while I am away:
- my birthday resolution which is to read all the Booker prize winners (Margaret Atwood and AS Byatt are packed);
- the article I am writing with an Australian colleague - developing a theoretical stance on partnership working which we are going to test out collaboratively with my local Director of Nursing;
- the final part of my Florence Nightingale Foundation/Burdett Trust scholarship - bringing the learning together. If anyone out there is looking for any leadership development, you might want to consider FNF - an amazing experience for me personally and for the good friends that I have made over the year.
- my imminent (November) Malawi trip - anyone out there with experience of Malawi or of developing/evaluating educational and mentorship initiatives in developing countries..... please get in touch!
- the final report for my NHS Education for Scotland funded project on the selection of students.

I am looking forward to the clear blue skies, the sea and the mountains, and the time for thinking and relaxing. I know that I will come back ready for the new academic session. Exciting times! (Mind you, I'm not sure that even the Greek Islands can get much more beautiful than a sunset in Stonehaven with friends).

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Missing NET2012.... And Tweeting

It's that time of year again - NET 2012 in Cambridge (and incidentally my birthday! - reminds me of when I went to school in England and I always went back after the summer holidays on or around my birthday...). I have a paper for presentation at the conference on the work of the NES Recruitment and Retention Delivery Group which Mike Sabin is presenting on our behalf. We think it will be of interest nationally (and more widely), particularly in relation to the work we have done on data enhancement and ongoing work on selection of students. There seems to be an appetite nationally to invest our energies in understanding values-based selection, and the Delivery Group is collaborating nationally on this area.

I am sorry to be missing NET for a number of reasons - it's always good to present one's ideas/research in a supportively challenging environment, along with the genuine opportunities to make meaningful connections with like-minded colleagues. As well as those important reasons, I love Cambridge where I did my own training.

On to Tweeting - As well as being quite new to blogging, I have taken to Twitter (@ruthft1). As an introvert (see previous postings), I am getting into Twitter in the same way that I do with relationships - slowly but surely. I have found it to be a fantastic resource for policy developments and wider debate as well as the creation of connections with people that I might not otherwise have been in contact with. If you're interested in 140 character discussion, I'd be delighted to see you following me so that we can 'talk' on subjects of interest. In the meantime, I will be keeping my eye on Twitter for the chat that will be coming from NET2012, and will look forward to catching up with my colleagues when they get back.