Sunday, 25 May 2014

A bit of a Spring Fling, Sleeping with David Beckham, a Loving-Kindness Meditation

It’s that time of the year again, the sap is rising, the sun is shining and it’s time for a bit of a Spring Fling. Of course this Spring Fling is Scotland’s leading visual art and craft event where some 95 artists, designers and craft makers open up their studies to the public. And it’s all on my door step. The event covers the whole of Dumfries and Galloway. I only came across the event last year, but was knocked out with some of the art and crafts seen. This year I chose to support the extension of the Spring Fling to help show case the work of artists in Glasgow, Newcastle and London.

Yesterday,my first stop off was to my favourite artist Urpu Sellar. Urpu originates from Finland and produces brilliant ceramic sculptures. I have been collecting her work for a number of years. Urpu has a great interest in language and in particular the idiosyncrasies of the English language. Often her pieces cleverly capture a play on words and or an expression. We spent some time playing catch up with our news. I selected a piece called ‘Gossip’ to buy and was able to place an order on a piece that was in the process of being created – called ‘who’s chairing this meeting’.

Last week my colleague Ieuan Ellis chaired his last Council of Deans (Health) meeting. Well to be accurate his last CoDH Summit, we have one more Executive meeting in June.  He has done well over the last 3 years in representing nurses, midwives and allied health professions in his role as chair of council. Last weeks meeting had a great deal of ground to cover, from up-dating on the somewhat stalled negotiations over national benchmark price (the amount of money the UK Government pays universities for each health care professional educated at a university) to what integrated health and social care might look like. And of course we spent some time starting the process of choosing our next Chair – well done June and Jessica for putting your heads above the parapet.

The meeting was held at the Burton on Trent Hilton (yes I was surprised as well!). It was the usual Hilton experience: perfect customer service from the staff, £9.60 for a glass of ordinary Pinot Grigio, and dreadful food for vegetarians – I think these days gnocchi has become the new vegetable lasagne – lazy food. However, the setting was stunning. Unbeknown to me, the Hilton at Burton on Trent is also part of the Football Associations National Football Centre – all 24 England teams use this facility for coaching, training and conferencing. The hotel was football themed throughout. My bedroom had 2 large pictures of David Beckham on the walls, so sorry Victoria, but for 2 nights, I slept with David Beckham.

While the CoDH membership was wrestling with the future of health care professions education, others were becoming vexed about the draft of the proposed new Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) Code of Conduct. It contains 115 items of good conduct guidance in its 25 pages. Number 114 appeared to cause great consternation and Twitter chat. This was the guidance proposed for the nurses use of Social Media – you must ensure that you use social networking sites and other forms of electronic communication responsibly and in line with our guidance, in particular by not referring to employers, colleagues, or pastor current people you have cared for – to me, this is a completely flawed example of guidance. 

I was more concerned with guidance number 42, which states that nurses must maintain clear professional boundaries (including sexual, personal and emotional boundaries) at all times with people in your care, their families and carers. I struggled with this guidance. What do emotional boundaries mean? Emotion is a differentiated construct – for example, feelings are subjective representations of emotions, unique and personal to the individual experiencing them; whereas moods are usually less intense than emotions, but can last longer than the emotional feeling and sense of being.

I have long advocated that nurses need to embrace the emotionality of their practice. They cannot possibly help others until they know something about who they are as an individual. For me understanding self and the emotions that shape our behaviour is critical to good mental well-being. My PhD was concerned with relationships, how these are constructed, maintained, and used, how they flourish and flounder. I have long been an admirer of Barbara Fredrickson’s and her work . into emotions and positive psychology undertaken over a large number of years.

Drawing on loving kindness mediation (LKM) techniques originating from Buddhist mind training practice, she published a paper last year that showed how learning and practicing LKM can produce enduring increases in positive emotions, which in turn result in the acquisition of arrange of personal resources that augment our experience of life satisfaction – additionally positive emotions improve cardiovascular health and more importantly for nurses (and others), help us engage in positive interpersonal relationships. Understanding the dynamic that exists between our intra, inter, and extra personal relationships is the critical to achieving effective nursing care.