Sunday, 4 January 2015

Goodbye 2014, Well Done Teresa, White Coats and a New Generation!

After what has been an extended Christmas and New Year break, the last of the visitors have left the House in Scotland. The village, which had been very busy over the holidays, is now once again quiet and the beaches deserted. Cello and I can walk without the distraction of other dogs, small children, or Christmas kite flying Fathers. Apart from Christmas and Hogmanay entertaining there have been lots of other distractions over the past couple of weeks.

For example, I attended our local Village Community Meeting. It was an extra-ordinary meeting as someone had offered to buy a small parcel of land owned by the residents of the Village. The offer was a tempting one as the sum of money on the table will have wiped out most of our community debt. After much discussion and debate, the decision was taken to proceed with the sale of the land. It was an interesting meeting and revealed in full Technicolor, the way in which different generations view the world and the changes occurring around them. The meeting and possibly the time of year made me think about some the changes I have seen.

So it was great to see Teresa Chinn (of the hugely successful Twitter site @wenurses) being recognised in the New Year’s honours list. Teresa was an agency nurse who found herself professionally isolated and reached out through social media to connect with other nurses. She has been credited with bringing the concept of Twitter chats to nursing in the UK. Many congratulations Teresa for some well-deserved recognition.

The world was a very different place when I undertook my nurse education and training. Mobile phones and social media didn't exist. I recall being given 1 charcoal grey suit (with 2 pairs of trousers) and 6 white coats. The white coats were sent to the laundry each week and returned to every male nurse freshly laundered and pressed. Student nurses benefited from heavily subsided meals in the hospital canteen, and there was always cheap beer in the Hospital Social Club.

Nurse education is very different today. Based around a strong partnership between University, Hospitals and other clinical practice areas, and patients themselves, nurse education is aimed at providing future nurses with the underpinning theoretical knowledge the practical and technical skills of nursing practice and the interpersonal relationship skills required when working in caring and supportive therapeutic relationships.  

The nurses of the future will need to be able to practice in a world that has changed so much since I did my training. What makes Teresa’s achievements so good has been the way she has encouraged nurses to embrace the digital age. Today there are over 100,000 health apps available to purchase and many more to freely download. Social media is being used in a variety of different ways. People blog about their experiences, and social media is used for self-support and networking. Digital communications have increasingly become central to the way we live our lives. 83% of homes have internet access, 72% of all adults claim to have purchased goods or services on-line, 50%of us use internet banking and 53% of adults in the UK access social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Here at the House in Scotland there is a new digital innovation. At long last I have fulfilled one of my life ambitions and have started to generate electricity through solar power. The system was fitted over 2 of the coldest days of 2014 – but now on the 4th day of 2015, electricity is being produced. My new digital meter tells me moment to moment how much is being generated as well as providing a running cumulative total. I can, of course access the information from my phone, laptop and iPad, and will be able to do so wherever I happen to be in the world. If I sound a little pleased, it’s because I am – and I am also very proud about being able to contribute to our sustainable futures.

I am also looking forward to a different kind of generation. The calendar working year starts tomorrow and with it comes the opportunity for me to work with a new School senior leadership team brought about by retirements and new colleagues joining the School. The first job we have next week is to generate the basic structure of our Operational Plan for the 2015/16 academic year. I am very confident we will get there with some great ideas for how we address the challenges and changes facing us. But between now and then there is just time for one more walk with Cello in the woods.