Despite the busy activity in response to Covid-19, nurses and their colleagues across hospitals and community services took time to recognise and acknowledge the work of all nurses on International Nurses Day 2020 on May 12.
Each year, the International Council for Nurse’s (ICN) leads the celebrations. The theme for International Nurses Day 2020 is ‘Nursing the World to Health’.
When this theme was decided no one could possibly have foretold how the world would come to rely on and value the nursing profession as they currently do, raising the profile of the profession exponentially and deservedly. Such a health crisis has never been experienced before even through the H1N1 Flu pandemic of 2009.
Irish nurses not only stood up to the challenge but embraced it and in many ways reorganised how they delivered care. Nursing by the bedside prevailed despite the apparent barrier of PPE. Nurses overcame this with various initiatives like wearing a photo of themselves on their gowns to maintain that all important human touch. ‘Smiling with your eyes’ became even more important to convey encouragement and reassurance to frightened patients.
The celebrations of 2020 are more poignant as on 12th May 1820 Florence Nightingale was born. Because of this, the World Health Organisation declared 2020 ‘The Year of the Nurse and Midwife’.
To mark the occasion, the nursing teams in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise (MRHP) were planning a wide range of activities throughout the year. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, all plans had to be reorganised.
However, the Hospital’s Director of Nursing, Sandra McCarthy was eager to mark the special day.
“I and the Senior Nurse Managers are immensely proud of all the Nurses in MRHP, your care, commitment and compassion for patients and each other is very much appreciated. The resilience and adaptability demonstrated by the Nursing teams over the past 3 months has been phenomenal.
"As Florence Nightingale wrote ‘For the sick it is important to have the best’ and in MRHP we certainly have the best. It has been encouraging the outpouring of support from the public for health care workers during this pandemic and a recent artwork by the artist Banksy on the wall of a NHS Hospital, paid tribute to Nurses.
"The piece, entitled ‘Game Changer’ shows a boy dressed in dungarees playing with a Nurse Superhero toy rather than the traditional superheroes. COVID-19 is certainly a game changer for how we deliver health care; I look forward to mapping out new innovative delivery models of nursing care in the future.
Ms McCarthy encouraged nurses to "more than ever, mind each other, be kind to one another and notice if a colleague requires a helping hand, ear or socially distant hug.”
She said a ‘Going Home Checklist’ was devised in March and displayed in all staff change areas. The focus on wellbeing, from a physical, emotional, psychological and social wellbeing is a high priority for her. She alsao discussed with nurse Leaders the importance during this time of huge anxiety and uncertainty, to focus on supporting team resilience and providing an opportunity for staff to reflect over the past number of weeks; what went well & where improvements can be made.
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Ms Eileen Whelan is Chief Director of Nursing & Midwifery & Quality at the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group.
“I would like to thank every nurse and every student nurse for their commitment to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. You have demonstrated tremendous courage and thank you to all the staff that have planned in advance of this pandemic.
"Many of you have reorganised services, you have moved services off site including all of your staff team. You have been involved in up skilling and have redeployed to areas of greater need. You have been involved in implementing new triage systems to separate patients, to support greater patient safety. In addition you have innovated your practice and directed all these changes in the interest of patients’ safety.
“I would like to thank all nurses of all grades and specialities and advance practice but in particular I would like to thank the nurses who responded to the plea of help from the residential care facilities making a tremendous impact to a very vulnerable group of patients. Thank you for your courage. In addition while this is a time where social isolation is really important as nurses we never work in isolation. We are always part of a bigger nursing team and a wider healthcare family.
"Not everyone will be able to sustain the challenge of working through the pandemic at the same pace; look out for colleagues who may need help and I encourage anyone who is finding the environment too challenging to seek help when needed. It is both the courage and the teamwork that is making a difference in this COVID-19 pandemic - ‘misneach agus meitheal’. Thank you for your courage and teamwork,” she said.
The Dublin Midland Hospital Group says each nurse and healthcare assistant was provided with a care pack, including;
· Personalised water bottle
· Candle – Light of hope in these challenging times; a thought for nurses & health care workers who have tragically died during COVID-19.
· Kit Kat – because taking a break is important
· Hand cream, body lotion & lip balm – A bit of TLC for our skin.
· A pack of love hearts – as some days you need courage
· Security Swipe card reel – As advised by Infection Prevention & Control, lanyards are not suitable in the clinical environment, this will be ideal for attaching your security personal identification card.
Each work station also received a Grapefruit & May Chang Reed diffuser. The essential oils were specifically chosen for their benefits. Grapefruit is known for its antibacterial and antimicrobial effects and also as a natural stress reducer. May Chang is associated with clearing the head and refreshing the mind and spirit.
Some key developments in nursing in MRHP so far;
· In 2019 the NMPDU (Nursing & Midwifery Planning & Development Unit) Midlands provided funding to Nursing staff in MRHP to support further education. The Hospital is continuing to encourage each Nurse to engage in PDP (Professional Development Planning) with their line manager and utilise the online PDP resource available @ HSELanD.
· As of May 2020, MRHP has 2 Advance Nurse Practitioner’s & 3 Candidate Advanced Nurse Practitioner posts; 2 ED Adults; 1 Paediatric unscheduled care; 1 Paediatric Respiratory and 1 Adult Diabetes. In development - a Candidate Advanced Nurse Practitioner Heart Failure as part of Sláinte Care Initiative. MRHP was successful in securing funding for 2 Sláinte Care Projects; COPD outreach and Heart Failure, this was a significant achievement, considering the competition for this funding. There are further CNS posts in development and details will be announced of these in the near future.
"Nursing matters, and the work Nurses do is critically important," said the Dublin Midland Hospital Group.