Sunday, 6 November 2011

Another Sunday Morning in Dubai – But it was a Great Busman’s Holiday

This time last week I was sending my blog from the Business Lounge at Dubai Airport. One week later, and I am once again sending my blog from the Business Lounge. In between I have been to Adelaide on a bit of a busman’s holiday. And it has been a wonderful week. I was hosted by the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of South Australia. They looked after me as if I was royalty.

The Qantas problem was overcome with a stopover in Melbourne – lovely to step out into the city and have lunch by the river – it brought back fond memories of previous visits. The evening was spent with a group of trainee Air Hostess. They were the most competitive group of people I have come across in many a year. I was appointed official judge for the best doughnut hair style. I have to say I was fascinated by the way those who knew how to do it did it – and did so effortlessly. I didn’t realize there was an actual material doughnut involved.

One day later than I planned I arrived at Adelaide. Two hours after landing I was having lunch at a Rundle Street pavement restaurant. Lunch proved to be a great opportunity to start the process of finding out what similarities there might be between the School of Nursing and Midwifery at UniSA and the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work at UoS. And there are many. Although the School at UniSA only taught nurse and Midwifery programmes, the numbers of students for these programmes were comparable to the UoS School. Amazingly from a UK context, each student has to make a contribution of up to 5000AUD toward the cost of their education and training – and some 90% of applicants to the School had UniSA as their first choice.

The next day I had an escorted tour of the city which touched each of the four quarters of Adelaide – so it was possible to experience the inner city, with its fantastic mixture of old and new architecture, and its bustle – epitomized for me in taking a coffee in the Central Market – the hill district, which of course had to include a visit to a small boutique winery, and then the old part of Adelaide with its fine old buildings set in huge plots, before going to the coast. When I first came to Adelaide in 2001 it was to a service led mental health conference. The coast with its sandy beaches and shallow warm water were the memories I have kept in mind ever since.

After a fine lunch at Lofty Peak, a lunch taken with a panoramic view of the city, it was back to the University to see the practice simulation laboratories. These were superb. Every clinical context was catered for and they were ‘staffed’ by colleagues from practice. It was an impressive set up that brought together new technology, the best from contemporary clinical practice and an approach to skills acquisition that was comprehensive and realistic. And it didn’t stop there as some of these facilities were so realistic and well equipped that the plan is to run real life clinics from them.

The following couple of days were a mixture of great conversations with some interesting and enthusiastic colleagues. I had a breakfast meeting with Nicholas Proctor and was able to identify a range of shared mental health research interests that I will follow up on. And by a strange twist of fate, this week I have also been attending a week long virtual Editorial Board meeting for the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing – many of the Board, including the Editor, are resident in Australia. But Australia is a big place and trying to get everyone together for a meeting is next to impossible. This week I was able to contribute in real time and not as is normally the case, some 10 hours behind the conversation.

So many thanks to Alun, Alan, Kelly, Roger, Mary, Nicholas, Peter, Carol, Joanne, Geri the driver (who had an encyclopedic knowledge of Adelaide’s history) and especially Michelle whose unremitting attention to detail made the whole trip a very successful one. Qantas got its act together and delivered me to Sydney airport, where Emirates once again took over That A380 is a great plane - but you have to travel on the upper deck to understand why.

After travelling for the best part of 17 hours already I am just 7 hours away from Manchester – I wonder how the little Arctic Tern manages the same journey on just an occasional swoop down for the odd fish along the way. And just how does he know whether to turn left or right?