Remembering Everything Nightingale Fought For

Modern day nursing is going through a renaissance. Being one of the oldest professions in healthcare comes with many challenges, and being adaptable seems to be a constant factor when being connected to this career choice.

Nursing Day is celebrated every year on May 12 in many countries across the world. This day is in honour of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse who founded the modern nursing profession in the 1800s.

Nightingale was born into an upper class British family in 1820. She made her first impressive mark in the field of healthcare during the Crimean War, which took place from 1853-1856 in the Black Sea region near Russia and Turkey. She led a team of 38 women who nursed and cared for wounded British soldiers in the conflict. Her team found the medical facilities weren’t caring for the wounded soldiers adequately. Medicines were in short supply, hygiene was neglected and mass infections were common. Thanks to Nightingale’s efforts, she helped reduce the death rate at the site from 42 to 2 percent.

After the war she came back to Great Britain and founded the Nightingale Training School in 1860 to train and educate women to become nurses. She also wrote a book called Notes on Nursing, which served as the cornerstone of the curriculum at the Nightingale School and other new nursing schools.

This book is considered a classic introduction to nursing. It was published at a time when the simple rules of health were only beginning to be known. The book did a lot to improve care in an era when hospitals were riddled with infection and many people viewed nursing as a lower-class occupation.

Not only was Nightingale a nursing pioneer, she was also a social reformer. She wanted to improve healthcare for all sections of British society regardless of their wealth or income, advocated for starvation relief in India, and expanded the role of women in the workforce.

Florence Nightingale did a lot of work expanding the scope of practice for nurses to provide better care for patients. Some of the issues she faced are similar to what nurses’ experience today. Nurses have to lobby their managers, employers and the government to expand their scope of practice to provide superior patient care in our healthcare facilities.

In today’s nursing environments, often nurses are assigned to provide care to ungrateful, violent and verbally abusive individuals. Nurses are scheduled to work long hours, with little or no breaks, and are constantly on their feet for most of their shifts to deal with patients with a variety of ailments.

Canada’s constantly growing aging population has the government searching for new ways to attract more nurses to the field and to provide alternatives for people who need help. Nursing has a proud history but clearly it isn’t attracting students to his healthcare profession since admission into nursing programs in Canada are in a downward spiral. Nursing can be a thankless job, but it can also be one of the most rewarding professions for those whom care and have a passion for giving and positive change.

Let’s remember everything Nightingale fought for and continue to push for the change that is needed to advance the future for nursing across Canada and globally. We will all be healthier for it!

By: Andrew Miller

“Inspiring”: An inside look at a special place for adults living with disabilities

DSWs help clients cope
Andrew Miller from the SEIU Healthcare communications team toured Choices in Hamilton, Ontario and spent a day meeting the centre’s clients and learning about the special contributions that developmental service workers make in our society.

“On paper, I knew what a Developmental Service Worker did. But […] I got to experience part of what they deal with on the day-to-day,” said Andrew, calling the visit “inspiring.”

This video shows DSWs from Choices working closely with clients, who live with a range of developmental disabilities and/or mental health issues:

DSWs at Choices work with adults with high-intensity behaviours and have experienced high much success in helping clients integrate into their community. Using a “person-centred” approach, DSWs assist clients with many life tasks and therapeutic skills, including working with animals, running errands, and doing physical exercise. DSWs also help clients with housing and job training, among other services.

It is clear that DSWs make a big difference in their communities and we applaud the work that they do every day.

G.W.

Showing Justin Trudeau hands-on personal support work

On June 19, SEIU Healthcare invited Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Mulcair to walk a day in a homecare worker’s shoes. Justin Trudeau was the first to accept the offer and he spent a day with Emily, a Toronto personal support worker who wanted to show him what her job is all about. Watch the result below.

Emily and Justin visited Antonietta, an 81-year-old Italian woman who lives alone. Without Emily, she wouldn’t be able to take good enough physical care of herself to continue safely living on her own.

Framed pictures of her family back home and here in Canada are laid out carefully across the fireplace mantel in her living room. “She has a supportive family,” says Emily. “Everyone does their part. Some clients have no one or no one to help.”

Emily is caring, funny, busy, and extremely hard-working. Like many PSWs, she works two jobs to be able to earn enough each month. She starts her personal support work in the early morning, and then at night, she helps her parents with cleaning contracts.

Her parents are seniors but can’t retire yet from their cleaning business. This is something that 30-year-old Emily is concerned about for herself. Most workers in the homecare field don’t have retirement security.

“The families are so grateful, they tell me ‘Emily, don’t leave!’” she laughs. In the video, she explains further, saying “I really do care for people, but I have to look after myself as well. We need a little bit of help and support and some kind of retirement security with some kind of pension. We’re humans too.”

Emily was happy to give Justin Trudeau an idea of what the life of PSWs is really like. Moved by the experience, he called PSWs “an essential part of our healthcare system but also communities.”

By 2036, nearly 1 in 4 Canadians will be a senior, and the need for homecare is only growing. Two million Canadians currently get care, and 500,000 have unmet needs. These are people like Antonietta; our family members, our friends, ourselves.

Who Was Florence Nightingale?

Florence Nightingale

Nursing Day is celebrated every year on May 12 in many countries across the world. This day is in honour of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse who founded the modern nursing profession in the 1800s.

Nightingale was born into an upper class British family in 1820. She made her first impressive mark in the field of healthcare during the Crimean War, which took place from 1853-1856 in the Black Sea region near Russia and Turkey. She led a team of 38 women who nursed and cared for wounded British soldiers in the conflict. Her team found the medical facilities weren’t caring for the wounded soldiers adequately. Medicines were in short supply, hygiene was neglected and mass infections were common. Thanks to Nightingale’s efforts, she helped reduce the death rate at the site from 42 to 2 percent.

After the war she came back to Great Britain and founded the Nightingale Training School in 1860 to train and educate women to become nurses. She also wrote a book called Notes on Nursing, which served as the cornerstone of the curriculum at the Nightingale School and other new nursing schools.

This book is considered a classic introduction to nursing. It was published at a time when the simple rules of health were only beginning to be known. The book did a lot to improve care in an era when hospitals were riddled with infection and many people viewed nursing as a lower-class occupation.

Not only was Nightingale a nursing pioneer, she was also a social reformer. She wanted to improve healthcare for all sections of British society regardless of their wealth or income, advocated for starvation relief in India, and expanded the role of women in the workforce.

Florence Nightingale did a lot of work expanding the scope of practice for nurses to provide better care for patients. Some of the issues she faced are similar to what nurses’ experience today. Nurses have to lobby their managers, employers and the government to expand their scope of practice to provide superior patient care in our healthcare facilities.

Let’s remember everything Nightingale fought for. We will all be healthier for it!

G.A.D

We Need A Stronger Homecare System

The demand on healthcare services is growing. According to the recent report published by the Conference Board of Canada in April 2015 called Understanding Health and Social Services for Seniors in Canada, it explains how the growing number of seniors are driving up demand for healthcare services.

The number of seniors who need healthcare is much higher than their younger counterparts. The amount of money spent on someone’s health needs in their 80s is much higher than someone in their 20s, 30s or 40s. And the number of seniors is growing.

In 1971, 8 percent of Canadians were 65 and older. In 2011 that number increased to 15 percent. By 2036 that number is projected to increase to a whopping 25 percent. Not only does that mean the number of Canadians who require large amounts of health spending is going to increase, the number people who are of working age (ages 15 to 64) is dropping. That means we have a smaller tax base to raise the money we need to properly care for our growing senior’s health needs. Right now there are 5 working Canadians for every senior. By 2030 that number will drop by nearly half to 2.7.

That’s why we need a stronger homecare system to look after the needs of our aging population. SEIU Healthcare has recently launched a campaign called Rise for Homecare. As demand for homecare grows, we need to build a homecare system that looks after our seniors properly.

Rise with us. Rise for Homecare!

G.A.D

Free risk assessment tool: My Cancer IQ

My-CancerIQ-Top-Image-610x484

Cancer Care Ontario has developed an online tool called My Cancer IQ to check your risk of developing four different types of cancer. You answer several questions about lifestyle and family history and then it tells you the results, elaborating on what is increasing or decreasing your cancer risk. The tool then provides a personalized action plan, with tips based on the answers to your questions, for example:

Eating 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruit each day (as you’ve been doing) may lower your risk of developing several cancers, including lung cancer. Keep up the great work!

Each recommendation has links to resources that help you and each question is linked to an explanation of why it is relevant and what the scientific research has shown.

There is special information for healthcare providers to share this tool with patients.

This tool is a fantastic user-friendly resource to help us be mindful of our cancer risk and the solutions we have to lower that risk for ourselves, our loved ones, and our clients.

Assisted suicide to become legal in Canada

holdinghands

The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the ban on assisted suicide. Our highest court has decided that we should have the right to ask our doctor for help to die. This gives us an option other than having the medical system actively trying to keep us alive against all odds or passively waiting for death to occur eventually on its own.

The desire to die commonly follows unbearable pain and discomfort, coupled with a sense of hopelessness. Often, one knows physical death is imminent anyway. But there are some unanswered questions about when, how, and who exactly can request and access help to die.

According a Globe and Mail report on the ruling, the decision says this option should be available to an adult who “clearly consents to the termination of life and has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”

What jumps out at me is the term “intolerable.” Maybe some of us will one day experience death that is relatively quick or tolerable, at the very least. But the slow, intolerable death of a human being is a tragedy that no one should be forced to experience at the end of their life.

I wrote about Toronto’s Dr. Donald Low who experienced a lingering death from a brain tumour. He made a famous video in which he said: “What worries me is how I’m going to die. What the end is going to look like. […] Why make people suffer for no reason when there’s an alternative?”

Clearly there are many grey areas here but I think we are moving forward as a society when we are able to look at this type of upsetting issue and ultimately give people more agency in decisions about their life and death.