Staff Reflect on Tough Times During Pandemic at Nurses Day Event

A book of reflections, gathered from staff across NHS Forth Valley during the Covid-19 pandemic, was handed over as part of local celebrations to mark International Nurses Day on 12th May 2023.

It was presented by local nurse and RCN Forth Valley branch representative Hilary Nelson to NHS Forth Valley’s Chief Executive, Cathie Cowan and Executive Nurse Director Prof Frances Dodd and will later be added to NHS Forth Valley Archives at the University of Stirling.

Forth Valley is the only RCN branch in Scotland to capture thoughts and feelings into a book from 2021 onwards and the contributions emphasise the camaraderie and support between colleagues.

Prof Frances Dodd, Executive Nurse Director NHS Forth Valley, said: “This book of reflections captures the experiences of local nurses across the organisation and is both moving and inspirational. It highlights how staff worked together to support local patients and their colleagues throughout the pandemic and is testimony to the care, compassion and commitment shown during this very challenging period in our history.”

Comments include: –

“We have come through a tough storm; we will shine again. Forty-three years of nursing and never thought I would see so much heartache in my last one.” Carol Gee, Registered Nurse

“During the pandemic as a student nurse I had to quickly adapt to online learning. This was very different to what I was used to. I went through a stage of self-doubt and giving up crossed my mind. I continued to work as a healthcare assistant which helped me grow in confidence as a student.” Casey McNeill, Student Nurse

“I am fairly new to the NHS but feel absolutely honoured to join such an amazing workforce at such a difficult time in the world.” Kalli Ferguson, Bank Nursing Assistant

“Thirty-five years nursing in Forth Valley. Last couple of years have been challenging but so rewarding. I had Covid-19 and survived to tell the tale, many others sadly didn’t.” Carla Tait, Frailty Team

“I am so proud of my team who came in on days off at times so that patients had contact and could do activities.” Tracey Gow, Senior Charge Nurse, Falkirk Community Hospital.

“We have faced many challenges throughout Covid. However, each one of us has helped and supported each other every day. I am so proud of all our nurse’s strength, resilience and high standards of care provided to our patients throughout.” Lynda Coulter, District Nurse Clackmannanshire

“I was caring for a lovely lady. On this day I read a letter to a grandmother from her granddaughter a last goodbye. There were tears and laughter, but I was so thankful that I could do this last thing. I think of this lady often and her granddaughter. May she rest in peace”. Lynda Reid – Nursing Auxiliary Nurse, Wallace Suite, Bellfield Centre, Stirling Health and Care Village

“I doubt future generations will understand the fear and sacrifice that the NHS endured. We knew that the Spanish flu had killed more than the Great War. We knew it was possible that a pandemic would kill millions. But we really didn’t think it would happen on our watch. It did and I spent the first few weeks in a tent in my garden terrified that I could bring a virus home that could kill my wife and children.” Charlie McCarthy – Emergency Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Department, Forth Valley Royal Hospital

International Nurses Day is celebrated annually around the world on 12 May – the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale – and is led by the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Every year there is a different theme and for 2023 it is: ‘Our Nurses. Our Future’.

ICN president, Dr Pamela Cipriano, said “The ‘Our Nurses. Our Future’ campaign will shine the light on nurses and on a brighter future, moving nurses from invisible to invaluable in the eyes of policy makers, the public, and all those who make decisions affecting the delivery and financing of health care.”

Hilary Nelson, of the RCN Forth Valley branch added: “As well as learning lessons to support nurses, this year’s campaign will also look at how global health systems must be strengthened to address growing health demands. Together our future depends on every nurse, every voice, to not only be on the front lines of care, but also be on the front lines of change.”

A range of events, talks and presentations were organised across NHS Forth Valley to celebrate International Nurses Day. These included hand & neck massage sessions, wellbeing and mindfulness sessions as well a performance by the Forth Valley Nurses Choir. Nursing students and existing nursing staff also shared photos with personal messages to highlight their ambitions and hopes for the future.