Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Last Night, Bug Bearing Nails, and Goodbyes in Budapest

It was a great 'Last Night' at the Proms this year. Marin Alsop, who was the first female conductor for a Last Night performance, took control yesterday evening, and she was superb, brilliantly humorous and kept the whole audience enthralled throughout. And then just when you thought it couldn't get any better, along came Nigel - Nigel Kennedy, playing as only he can, and for the first time also at the Last Night. Such passion and feeling, it was an absolutely fantastic end to the week, and the prom season as a whole!

Last week had a rather slow start. On Monday I learnt that the Royal College of Nursing found the findings from the latest research from Cardiff University and London’s City University ‘worrying’. The research was reported in a paper published in the American Journal of Infection Control which suggested that infection control was being put at risk by fashion conscious nurses wearing nail extensions. RCNs Tom Sandford, (I am not sure he has ever worn nail extensions), helpfully advises that finger nails should be short and free of nail varnish and absolutely that false nails should not be worn as they harbour bacteria.

Wednesday evening I flew to Budapest and joined my colleagues from the EmpNURS Project. This is a project aimed at empowering the professionalization of nurses through mentorship. The 3 year project was funded by the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme. The project involved 11 partner organisations from the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. It was the last workshop and also a chance to present some of the many outcomes of the project. The tangible outcomes, in the form of a series of training programmes, can be freely accessed at  

The workshop day was a hectic one, jam packed with presentations on different aspects of the work, and an opportunity to reflect on the contributions people had made, the challenges overcome, and the work still to be undertaken. Despite a very full programme, we were still able to visit a local health care service provision. These visits have been an integral element in helping us all better understand the cultural difference and similarities across the partnership.

This visit was to the National Institute for Medical Rehabilitation. It was an absolutely stunning facility, ultra-modern, light, quiet, and bright and the whole place had an atmosphere of calm and confident professionalism. The reasons people were there were not good, and often the consequence of some catastrophic event or illness in their lives. However, the institute provided hope, skilled intervention and above all hugely compassionate care. It was a privilege to be able to glimpse inside this world.

Dinner that night was announced to be a river cruise on the River Danube. Now I am not that keen on water, and I have to confess that memories of the Marchioness disaster passed through my mind. This was a river boat on the River Thames that in 1989, was hit by another boat and sank, killing 51 of the 131 people having evening dinner on board. Thankfully, despite the River Danube being some 1785 miles long and passing through 4 Central European capitals, our boat was firmly moored to the river bank and did not move at all.

Friday we found ourselves in the Great Hall of the Hungarian Ministry of Human Resources for the Projects Closing Seminar. It was a celebratory event attended by students, qualified nurses, policy makers, and nurse educationalists from around Europe. I was fortunate enough to be asked to present my work on empowerment and professionalism, which at a personal level was extremely rewarding. It closed a circle of discussion that had started 4 years ago in a much more modest building in Budapest as the embryonic EmpNURS project team hammered out the application, and the projects aims and objectives.

It was brilliant working with such a great team over the last 3 years. So a great big thank you to: Erna, Olga, Karen, Ileana, Eva, Andrea (short), Andrea (tall), Mariann, Heini, Nicole, Ildiko, Zdenka, Camelia, Grazwida, and of course my long standing friend, good lad and old rock and roll star, Mikko. I hope it’s not the last goodbye and we soon find the next big idea to work on.

Sadly, I learnt while in Budapest that another of my friends, from Central Europe, Alzbeta Hanzlikova, from Martin in Slovakia, had died after a brief illness. She had invited my former boss David Skidmore and I to what was then a fledgling conference on nurse theory, research and education in 1996. I loved that first experience, and Alzbeta along with her wonderful husband, Vladimir, David and I shared many positive, productive and often humorous experiences together over the years. The conference wasn't held in Martin this year, and so I last saw Alzbeta at the 2011 conference. While we never went on a boat together, we did once watch black bears come and eat the plums from her back garden, to my mind a somewhat safer experience!