Whenever I have been asked in job interviews or by someone to describe myself, creativity is always a word I use. I then go onto say I don’t mean artistic as I don’t have an artistic bone in my body! What I really mean is my thinking.
I love the freedom to be able to let ideas and thoughts develop in a way that is without frameworks.
My work leading Compassionate Inverclyde which is a social movement is exactly like that. There is no prescription, it evolves on a daily basis naturally following it’s own path, listening to the ideas of a community and letting that grass root thinking emerge.
It gives me an energy and feeds my soul. I am truly grateful to be immersed in a job which fits me like a glove.
It doesn’t feel like work it feels wonderful to be working with the community to empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
During our first week at Balbirnie with my QNIS tribe we were encouraged to be creative each day. Whether it was being still in our mindfulness practices, creating a mandala or writing a poem or writing in our journal our hearts and mind merged to create wonderful things. Creations made with love, enthusiasm and spontaneity, it was such a joy.
Think about how you can be creative today as it is life giving and positive.
Everyone of us needs things which nurture us and we need to seek them in our every day lives.
I appreciate and am grateful for my awareness that being creative feeds my soul.😊
As I said I want to blog about my experience throughout the Queen’s Nursing Programme. All the highs, learning, and creativity.
On day 1, not long after we arrived we were introduced to the concept of developing a Meta Question. To be honest I had no idea what a Meta Question was , never mind develop one!! 😂
We were asked to think about and develop throughout the week what our unique Meta Question would be. My mind immediately went to my project. We had been asked on the application form to outline a piece of work which we would work on over the 9mth s of the QNIS programme. (That was after I googled what it actually meant.)
My first attempt was:
How can I empower ordinary people to perform acts of kindness to support families who are supporting loved ones at the end of life?
However during much discussion throughout the week of reflection , soul searching, action learning pulling apart our original concepts and attempts to arriving at the end of the week with our finished article.
How do I continually seek ways to feed my soul in order to flourish?
I discovered that Meta Questions have been around for a very long time. Meta questions are questions that allow us to peel back the layers of some bodies experience and see what is going on behind the scenes.
Its like asking a series of questions in order to answer the original question. Exploring at a much higher level thoughts and feelings.
Since our week, I think about my question everyday and have put in place very practical ways at the minute which will help answer my Meta Question.
I have started to read for 20mins every day
restarted Yoga class
bought a hula hoop.
Looking forward to discovering how to answer my Meta Question.
I started my day yesterday dancing, well probably more moving to the music.
I remember in primary school having music and movement where the teacher played some music and the whole class got up and moved to the music. I always hated it.
The girls in my class all had great figures and looked great when they moved but I moved around the classroom more like a hippo from the film Fantasia. There fore I always shy away from any public display of movement. I get up to dance at a night out not because I love the music and want to dance but more because of peer pressure and I don’t want to be a spoil sport.
Anyway, on the Thursday morning of the QNIS programme, we were asked to meet in the ballroom and when we arrived there was a beautiful big room where weddings are held however the floor was empty.
Brendan explained we were going to do an exercise called 5 Rhythms by Gabrielle Roth.
I thought OH NO!! I will hate this.
Just to explain the 5Rythmns is a dynamic practice to workout and meditate in the same breath. Practicing them helps us to become attuned to the underlying patterns in our every day existence.
Well the music started and we all started to move a bit awkwardly at first but by the time we finished I had completely embraced it and my body moved with the music with complete freedom, twirling, flowing, stamping , swaying . It was quite an amazing experience and out of the whole week one which spoke to my being and fed my soul the most.
I feel I have gained so much from that 1 exercise, confidence, sensation and fun. I danced with my Tribe wholeheartedly and experienced freedom through moving my body😊
Thank you for unleashing an energy that I wasn’t aware of 🤗
There are so many wonderful things I want to share with you about the experience at Balbirnie House and starting the Queen’s Nursing Programme.
I have chosen to start with Spirituality and a search for meaning.
All of my adult life I have been drawn to engage and discover my spirituality and I don’t mean that completely from a religious framework but from a need to feed my soul with ‘ life giving’ ways, if that makes sense?
It was my search for meaning.
A personal spiritual journey that led me on pilgrimages to the Himalayas, Iona, Taize, and other places, discovering practices of mindfulness and stillness, self compassion, creative prayer. I even completed a course run by the Scottish Churches Open College called Training for Learning and Service and twice in my life have almost went into ministry😊
The reason why I am starting here in relation to Queen’s Nursing is the fact that all of the above was a search for meaningful connection with something bigger than me and coming along to become a Queen’ Nurse is part of that journey.
A big part of the QN’s programme t is about deep reflection.
Reflection is a word with 2 meanings: It’s the image that you see when you look in the mirror but it is also the insight you get from looking inside yourself.
Many of the practices we experienced during the week helped us to do exactly that both professionally and personally. In later blogs I will explain some of these practices and insights and I hope to inspire some people to explore and deeply reflect .
It is essential for your self care and improves decision making.
I will end today with s short self compassion meditation which we can all benefit from.
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be free from suffering
May I live with ease
Monday 25th Feb 2019 started normally. Google maps indicated that my journey would take approx 2 hours. I was heading to Balbirnie House in Fyfe for the beginning of The 2019 Queen’s Nursing Programme.
Little did I know that this day would be the beginning of the most amazing week of my life.💜
It was a spring like day, and the drive was non eventful. Arriving at Balbirnie was spectacular, a long drive and big beautiful house.
Before we arrived we were asked to bring something from home that we loved and this item would help you introduce yourself. I looked and thought hard about what I would take, I decided to choose a stone with a mosaic heart on it. I was given it as a gift and I love it. I kept remembering that I had to bring it. I felt good that I knew it was in my car I hadn’t forgotten it.
As we all gathered excited, nervous, apprehensive , arriving and gathering and observing.
Well we all sat down together in one of the many beautiful rooms and the introduction exercise was the first thing we were doing on the programme . Well did I not leave the stone heart in my car so I was the only person in the room without their item!!😢😂
Not a great start but it did get better from there on in🤗🤗🤗 Looking forward to sharing xx
I have decided to write about my personal experience as I journey towards becoming a Queens Nurse.
How it started.
Out of the blue Clare Cable CEO of QNIS emailed me in the Autumn of 2017 and asked if I would speak at the next QNIS conference in April 2018.
She asked if I would talk about Compassionate Inverclyde and in particular about nurse leadership in the community. I was thrilled. I emailed her back and said yes and then some time later we spoke on the phone.
I knew as I started to speak with Clare on the phone at that moment I wanted to become part of the QNIS family. I had never met Clare but I knew from talking to her on the phone she was a remarkable woman.
I spoke at the conference in April 2018 which was a wonderful event, listening to the wonderful work the new Queens nurses were doing and I got to meet Clare then for the first time. I was completely in awe of her. Her passion for community nursing was immense and I just knew I needed to become part of this movement.
I asked Clare how to apply and she said look out online for the applications to become open so I waited with bated breath.
As part of the application process you need to be nominated by your organisation so when Linda McEnhill CEO of Ardgowan Hospice completed her part of the application form I was delighted and grateful for the backing of both Linda and Ardgowan Hospice.
Deep reflection is what is asked for when completing the questions for the application form which felt a wee bit like writing 5 essays but I managed it and submitted it and was selected for interview.😊
The interview process was a full day, it felt a wee bit like speed dating although Ive never actually done that ! 😂
I was successful and was selected to be part of the 2019 Cohort.
And so it begins……..
Well, the day has finally arrived after a year of planning and meetings with the working group.The No One Dies Alone (NODA) programme pilot starts In Inverclyde Royal Hospital today. It will be the first hospital in Scotland to have this programme.
The NODA programme aims to support people who have no family or friends in the last hours of life. A rota of Volunteer companions will sit with the person until they die so that the person is not alone.
This programme started in America by a nurse called Sandra Clarke who worked hard to get the programme up and running after an experience she had which did not rest.
Sandra had been looking after an elderly gentleman who was nearing the end of his life and he had asked if she would sit with him. As he was frightened of dying alone. Sandra said she would certainly do that for him however she was called away and when she returned the man had died.
Sandra was devestated and as a nurse felt she had let this man down. In the following years she worked to develop the NODA programme which is now wide spread across America.
If you have been following my blog you will know I have recently been in Cleveland working with Cheryl Bradas and Vicky Bowden from Metrohealth who have generously shared how they rolled out their NODA Programme. I had an amazing experience with them and wish to express my sincere gratitude for their generosity of spirit and hospitality.
The girls gifted me a NODA blanket which I shared at the volunteers training on Saturday.
On Saturday 30 of the 40 volunteers attended the NODA TRAINING it turned out to be a fantastic day. A huge thank you to all the speakers and compabions who gave of their time and support.
I also met another team in America who were doing something similar but different but it was great to hear about their experience.
I have now completed all of my planned visits exploring Compassionate Communities and will now attempt to write the report for the Florence Nightingale Foundation who provided the travel scholarship which allowd me this opportunity and experience of which I am very grateful.
I hope that during my blogs you also have experienced some of my learning and met the people on the journey.
Hospices can be found all over the world from the very basic to the very grand.
The word hospice was first used in the 4th century when Christian orders welcomed travellers, the sick and those in many kinds of need. A place to rest (nahf.org.uk)
More recently, In 1963, a British hospice pioneer named Cicely Saunders established the first modern hospice, St Christopher’s Hospice in England. The guiding principle of Dr. Saunders’ work was ” To cure sometimes, but to comfort always” later that same year she travelled to America to discuss hospice care there. Her tireless work was recognised when she was made a Dame and became known as Dame Cicely Saunders
I have worked at Ardgowan Hospice since the inpatient unit opened in 1989 , however this would not have been possible but for the group of local people in Inverclyde whose committment to fundraising and belief in palliative care made the reality of having a hospice possible. It is important always to reflect on the people like Dame Cicely Saunders and the Ardgowan Hospice Steering Group who had the dedication and vision to make things happen.
I think we dont do this often enough and in the modern day when the pace is fast and bereaucracy gets in the way we can forget these important roots.
I wanted to work in Pallitive Care because I wanted to go the extra mile and have loving regard for patients last days and hours of life.
My life and work has been truly enriched and blessed by the patients and families that I have had the privilage to get to know.
I have visited 2 hospices here in Cleveland both very different but equally as valuable as the people they serve.
Here are some pictures of both places:
Connecting with others
Evidence shows that good relationships with family, friends and our wider community are important for our wellbeing.
Connecting with others is one of the five evidence based steps you can take to improve your mental wellbeing.
I have been connecting with so many people here in Cleveland it has been wonderful.
I want to intoduce you first of all to the 2 wonderful Clinical Nurse Specialists whom I have been emailing for about a year now about NODA and have made this visit possible for me and put the itinerary together. Not only are they fantastic professionals they are truly wonderful people with whom I have made i am sure connections and friendships which will last a life time.
A huge thank you to these lovely ladies.
Other people I met were :
Linda Jackson who is the Director of Arts in Medicine
Becky Moldaver Director of Volunteer Services
Jim Kulma , Chaplain
Judy , Pamela and Iradia at Malachi House
I also met Monica Gerrek who is the Codirector for the centre of Biomedical ethics her stories were fantastic and Sandra Wright-Esber , Director of Advance Practice Registered Nursing whose passion and compassion was amazing. I also spent time visiting patients with the Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner.
Leading all of the nurses I met is Melissa Kline Vice President and Chief Nusing Officer who also met with me which was great, as I know her Schedule is really busy and it was great to here about her leadership and support to the team.
All of these connections have enhanced my understanding and added another thread to the tapistry of this visit.
I am truly grateful for their time , this vist at Metro Health and to the Florence Nightingale Foundation for the travel scholarship that has allowed this to happen.
This is the No One Dies Alone Garden
Today I had a truly uplifting experience. I visited Malachi House in Cleveland.
Malachi House serves people who are terminally ill and have the need of an available caregiver and are in the need of special home care in the final stages of life.
It is not a hospice it is a home and has 15 bedrooms.
I was able to visit and meet with Judy, Pam and Iraida who are part of the team who minister to the “family”
I am using the word family in the true sense even although they are not related, staff and volunteers cook, clean , eat together, and become family for the residents until they die.
The essence of this compassionate community is a genuine love for the people they are caring for and a dedication to make it a home with a sense of family. Ordinary people caring for ordinary people .
A sign within the home reads:
“I scarcely know where to begin… but love is always a safe place”
In all of the true compassionate communities I have visited the following values are evident and essential:
Love, connection, kindness, regard, no judgement, willingness and just like in the bible the greatest of these is love.
There is a wonderful wall with the names of everyone who has died there over the last 30 yrs.
Here are some of the great photos. From the outside of the building to the inside and people form a wonderful hug as you enter.
The wee garden