On Thursday 13th November 130 people gathered at Queen Margaret University to participate in a debate entitled “Nurses: catalysts for community health and wellbeing.” The evening was chaired by Pennie Taylor well known to most as the Chair of the NHS Scotland Event, she is a Glasgow-based journalist and champion of public involvement in the development of Scotland’s health and care services. The debate was filmed and is available in the Resources section of our website.
Click here to watch the debate.
Clare Cable from the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland introduced the evening, setting the scene for the debate. History shows us examples of nurses as influential social reformers; the event set out to explore the role of contemporary nursing in community empowerment.
At the time when, the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland came into being, 125 years ago, the nursing pioneers of the day were campaigning for social reform. Florence Nightingale in 1894 stated her view that “preventable disease should be looked on as a social crime”. In 2014 too many people in Scotland still live in poverty. Despite considerable policy initiatives in recent years, Scotland’s health record continues to show significant health inequality across communities.
Perhaps now more than ever, communities are engaged. What the referendum has shown us is that the people of Scotland are ready and willing to get involved in shaping our country. So who are the leaders of community well-being? There are more and more examples of small charities and social entrepreneurs seeing what is needed and doing amazing things. Can professionals ever really be genuine partners in change when they parachute in from their homes in different communities and bring their professional baggage?
Four excellent presentations were made:
- A short film prepared by Hilda Campbell from COPE Scotland, a community based social enterprise supporting individual and community resilience. Hilda set out the characteristics of someone who acts as a catalyst for change and described her work making a difference to lives of individuals and the community in Drumchapel. Hilda’s challenge was that nurses should see ‘the streets as our wards’. See her film here.
- Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England; described being inspired by the Queen’s Nurses in Tooting ‘I thought the District Nurses had attitude and then I met the Health Visitors!’. He set out the extent of the public health challenges and the underlying issues that affect people’s lives – the need for jobs, housing and meaningful relationships.
- David Duke, Founder of Street Soccer Scotland told the inspiring story of setting up community football in unlikely places and described the difference it can make to a person’s life who is stuck in a cycle of poverty, addiction, crime with no hope. Getting up for football training has given young people a reason to get up and make positive choices for their lives.
- Julia Egan, Consultant in Public Health Nursing, on secondment to the Scottish Government shared some of her experience in public health nursing over the years. She talked about the importance of leadership and enabling management and the need for a values based culture, as well as the potential for more specialist public health nursing roles.
The evening was then opened up for discussion and a range of comments and questions were taken from the floor. Many comments were captured on Twitter #125debate. Here are a few memorable lines:
“It’s really important that local employers are involved”
“Dare the policy makers to disagree with you”
“We need to apply rampant common sense”
“More honesty, more humility”
Thoughtful contributions were made by Lisa Curtice, who leads people powered health and wellbeing with the Alliance; Pauline Craig from NHS Health Scotland; John Gillies from the Royal College of General Practitioners; and Ros Shaw from the Royal College of Nursing who highlighted the Nursing at the Edge campaign which asks us all to sign a petition to ask Scottish Government to long term funding for projects that improve the lives of the most vulnerable.
The evening was recorded and this will be available on the QNIS website shortly – watch this space.