The Christmas Carol of Nursing
In light of Christmas fast approaching, we draw parallels from the classic story, A Christmas Carol, by examining the past, present and future of Nursing in the UK.
Nursing in the past
In the past, nursing was not the respected profession that it is today. As Florence Nightingale was to put it, nursing was left to ‘those who were too old, too weak, too drunken, too dirty, too stupid or too bad to do anything else’. The intimate body services to be done for the patient were considered to be unseemly or immodest for young unmarried or well-bred females, especially if not a family member. Cleaning and feeding of another person were regarded as domestic tasks performed by servants.
Florence Nightingale revolutionised the industry by being the first woman of class to become a nurse. She chose not to get married, or be defined by the wealth and status of her parents. While she is widely regarded as ‘The Lady with the Lamp’, history shows us that she was so much more than that, given that she brought innovation and changed the face of the medical industry as we know it.
Here are two of her most amazing achievements:
- Using statistical evidence for patient records: While caring for patients at the military hospital, Nightingale began collecting information about the British soldiers’ mortality rates. By February 1855, the mortality rate at the hospital was a staggering 42.7 percent, according to Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing. As a result of this finding, Nightingale got to work improving hygiene and sanitation among soldiers, significantly dropping the mortality rate. Through keeping detailed notes and records, she was able to use statistical evidence and data to eventually influence the way that hospitals were run for the better. She even created a pie chart that could reflect a patient’s changing outcomes, better articulating her patients’ poor medical conditions to hospital leaders. Most importantly, Nightingale supported her theories and choices with evidence — something modern-day nurses practice and reinforce each day when delivering informed patient care and treatment plans.
- Practicing patient-centered care: Resoundingly, Nightingale was an advocate for her patients. She was famously known for nursing the sick, not merely nursing a sickness — a major pillar of practicing nurses today. Whether in acute care settings, global health care programs or community health organizations, nurses rely on significant one-on-one time with their patients. By doing so, they gain a better understanding of how to provide the kind of care that meets a patient’s individual needs and comfort standards. This patient-focused care stems from Nightingale, who continues to have a major influence on the nursing field today.
Revalidation in the present
Since April 2016, all nurses and midwives who wish to continue working in the UK are now required to regularly demonstrate that they practice safely and effectively under a new rigorous system of revalidation. The new system, which was recommended following the Mid Staffs hospital scandal, aims to improve public protection by making sure that the UK’s 655,000 nurses and midwives are up to date in their training and skills and that they continue to practise safely and effectively throughout their careers.
Under revalidation, which replaces the current Post-Registration Education and Practice (Prep) requirements, nurses and midwives will have to revalidate every three years when they apply to renew their place on the register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). From April, nurses and midwives seeking re-registration will have to provide evidence they have completed 450 hours of practice per register entry over the preceding three years and 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) learning, 20 of which need to be participatory.
Furthermore, they have to deliver five written reflections based on four themes in a new code of professional standards; have evidence of feedback from others including patients, relatives and colleagues and have third-party confirmation of continuing fitness to practise. This is likely to be from a line manager. As part of the process, they will also have to declare that they have professional indemnity insurance and that they are of good health and character.
The NMC requires that nurses and midwives set up an NMC online account so they can find out the deadline for revalidation and when their registration expires. Help is being provided by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which has a number of advice leaflets and CPD resources on its website under a special learning zone. A telephone helpline has also been set up, and nurses who need more information or support throughout the process can call 0161 923 6277.
*The Search Medical Recruitment team has produced a wide range of material - including a comprehensive handbook - to support and guide nurses throughout revalidation process. If you would like more information, you can contact John Murphy on [email protected]
Digital healthcare of the future
As the population grows and ages, and medical advances are made which prolong life, demands increase on the healthcare system.
Smart Assistive Technology
This empowers individuals with disabilities and long-term conditions to take nearly complete ownership over their daily activities. These tools are often available as part of NHS and social care packages. The prospect of using these to gather information in addition to achieving a specific task is motivating several new developments.
For example, there is the tremor spoon on the market for use by people with Parkinson’s disease. By incorporating sensors and deploying its data analytic expertise, the aim is to provide people or health professionals with information about how someone’s tremor characteristics and severity change over time.
One company has developed sensor technology that can be swallowed and combined with drugs in pill form. When the pill dissolves in the stomach, the sensor is activated and transmits data to a wearable patch on the outside of the body and on to a smartphone app. This enables patients and their clinicians to see how well they are adhering to their prescription.
The benefits of this technology are obvious; the patients feel empowered, and can remain where they are comfortable, meaning nurses are only involved when they are most needed. It means nurses spending more time caring for patients, not administrative work.
However, with the original budget cut by a third the challenge for the NHS will be to pool resources efficiently and into the most appropriate technology.
Calling all nurses!
If you’re a registered nurse with a passion for helping others, then Search has the job you are looking for! Our Nursing recruitment team recruits nurses to work in a variety of organisations throughout the UK. Our knowledge and understanding of this challenging industry means that we can provide expert advice and consultancy to candidates looking to make their next move within the Nursing industry to new nursing jobs. You can see our full list of vacancies here!