This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and unfortunately many of the celebrations that were planned have been unable to take place.
However, as we mentioned the great work of our midwifery teams last week, I am pleased to be able to mark Florence’s birthday and International Nurses’ Day to celebrate the extraordinary contribution nurses make. It seems so relevant to mention that Florence Nightingale pioneered infection control practices, amongst other things, and continually championed the importance of hand washing at every opportunity, she would have been proud of how everyone has stepped up and focused on adherence to infection control practices during this challenging time and the importance of hand washing – a fundamental practice but so critical to keeping our patients safe.
I am proud to say that, this year, I have been a nurse for 34 years and the Director of Nursing & Quality at the Countess for the past 7 years. I am not quite sure where all those years have gone since I started my training in London in 1986. What I do know is that I am still as passionate about it as I was on day one of my training. Over the years, the development of nursing roles has seen the advancement of practice to specialist and consultant nurse positions, the implementation of the Assistant Practitioner and Nursing Associate, not to mention the contribution nurses make to research and in undertaking research themselves. The current Coronavirus pandemic has seen nurses, previously retired, return to practice with support, demonstrating their valuable contribution of skills, knowledge and experience to complement our substantive workforce. It’s also seen our student nurses, our future registered workforce, wanting to gain further experience to support their learning and putting themselves at the heart of caring for our patients with such enthusiasm.
I often hear, ‘I’m just a nurse or I’m just doing my job’ but it is absolutely so much more than that. I have never stopped being amazed by the commitment, dedication and compassion of our nursing teams and it has been heart-warming to read positive comments received from families regarding the compassion and professionalism shown to their loved ones in recent months. Particularly at this time, I recognise our nurses are dealing with very stressful situations, being the one holding a patients hand in their last hours of life and having difficult conversations with their loved ones. Yet throughout all of this, nurses remain resilient and professional in ensuring the best possible care is delivered to every patient. A famous quote from Florence was ‘No matter how difficult the days may get, never forget the reason you became a nurse’. Today is an opportunity to stop and reflect on this.
To nationally recognise the extraordinary work that all nurses and midwives are doing in the fight against coronavirus, the country is asked to ‘shine a light’ to mark International Nurses’ Day this evening at 8.30pm. Activity planned locally to mark the day includes the lighting up of Chester’s famous Eastgate Clock. Please join the nation and shine a light in memory of the famous Lady of the Lamp.
Another way in which International Nurses’ Day is being marked nationally is by a special concert performed as a surprise on YouTube.
Laura Whitmore has hosted the concert with artists including Melanie C, James Blunt, Zara Larsson, Clean Bandit, Anne-Marie and others.
We are encouraging all our teams to enjoy the concert when they can at the Hospitality for Heroes YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKSIAfeJlBc