Clare Cable, Chief Executive of QNIS, shares her review of ‘The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion’ by bestselling author Christie Watson.
In April 2019 I was privileged to spend time with Christie Watson when she came to Scotland to meet Scottish Queen’s Nurses as part of her research for her book ‘The Courage to Care’ which has just been published. Christie is herself a nurse, and her previous book ‘The Language of Kindness’ tells the story of her own nursing career, primarily in hospitals. This time, she turns the lens on community nursing and tells the stories of care at home, on the streets and in prisons, woven together with her own story of being a daughter, sister and mother. Over the beautifully meandering narrative, Christie reflects on the meaning of compassion and how we each bring our complex, fragile human selves to nursing.
She brings to life the essence of skilled nursing care – that extraordinary blend of specialist knowledge, highly developed technical skill, and deep humanity. She highlights how we as nurses are passionate in speaking up for those whose voices are not heard. The picture she paints is real and messy; there’s nothing twee or saccharine about her portrayal of the extraordinary everyday lives of the nurses she meets. And she does not shy away from the political issues which are the inescapable backdrop to all that we do in health and social care, highlighting the injustice that means that those already most disadvantaged, are those most at risk of disease, COVID-19 in particular. She is clear in her views that nurses need to continue to speak up and be heard, to lobby for places on the strategic groups where decisions about our nations’ health are taken.
Whilst in Scotland in April 2019, Christie spent time with Queen’s Nurses Rachel McReady from Dundee and Jess Davidson from Edinburgh. She tells their stories with heartfelt admiration. The accounts she has created powerfully demonstrate an intense commitment to compassion and to social justice, to making a difference for those whose lives have been blighted by neglect, abuse, addiction and trauma in its many forms. This is a side of nursing which is rarely brought to light.
At QNIS we have spent a lot of time working to profile the professional lives of contemporary community nurses and our website has at least 60 great examples. But not many people know about QNIS and few people understand the sheer range of nursing roles undertaken in our communities today. So, what a fabulous opportunity to have our stories told by a Costa First Novel winner, and a Sunday Times number one bestselling author! And what a lot we have to learn about the way in which we create, curate and develop our narratives…Christie brings her acute powers of observation, honed through years of nursing practice, and combines that with her gift as an accomplished writer to bring us a moving account of nursing in 21st century Britain at the outbreak of COVID-19.
You can follow Christie Watson on Twitter: @tinysunbird