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Community nurses in Scotland have harnessed the power of storytelling to help them deal with the emotional demands of working during the coronavirus pandemic and have launched a new video to share their experiences.
When the pandemic first hit the UK more than a year ago, the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland funded a creative project to support community nurses in the country to manage the high levels of ongoing stress they were experiencing.
“The development of a resource to help nurses cope with psychological trauma in the workplace couldn’t have been timelier”
Spearheaded by nursing lecturers at the Queen Margaret University, the SEEDS project saw eight community nurses attend a series of workshops which used a combination of storytelling and practice development exercises.
The result of the workshops was a new interactive tool to help staff cope with psychological trauma, which will be made available later this year.
In addition, the group came together to create a video encompassing their feelings, emotions and experiences throughout the pandemic.
Within the powerful video, launched today to coincide with World Health Day, the nurses tell their story through a poem, explaining the shifts in their ways of working amid the pandemic.
The nurses explained how at times they had felt “quite alone”, “exhausted” and “undervalued”. Others describe how their experiences “are scarred on our souls”.
The poem comes to an end by explaining the need for community nurses to “strengthen our teams through support and reflection”.
“Embrace the challenges and pressures we face,” the poem adds. “Finding time for self-care; taking a breath from this race. Sharing our feelings, growing together; understanding our emotions, we can face the pressure.”
The nurses also highlight a new toolkit created during the workshops and described it as their “foundation” going forwards.
As part of the workshops ran last year, nurses were given a kitbag of materials to encourage them to tell their stories.
Through telling their stories, the group could reflect and discuss the key issues and feelings being experienced by community nurses at work.
The end result of the workshops was the creation of an interactive toolkit to help staff cope with psychological trauma.
The toolkit was named CAKE and stands for caring for self and others, attending to what is happening, keeping connected and enabling and empowering.
It has seven coloured ‘slices’ that staff can use to explore new ways of working through stress and trauma.
Each slice takes nurses through a journey of storytelling, reflection, action planning, self-care, wellbeing and resilience-building strategies.
The overall project had first been proposed by interim clinical nurse manager of NHS Lothian, Catriona Drummond following concerns over increased attrition, poor retention of staff and compassion fatigue.
A colleague of Ms Drummond, Karen Stout, district nurse team manager, was also part of the project and worked closely with nursing participants during the group workshops.
Ms Stout said: “The SEEDS project was undertaken during a very challenging time and the development of a resource to help nurses cope with psychological trauma in the workplace couldn’t have been timelier.
“It is very exciting that we will soon be able to share the CAKE toolkit across the service, with wider nursing teams and beyond.”
“Using creative methods to share information and express oneself can distance the storyteller from the actual event”
Also involved in the programme was Queen Margaret University’s senior nursing lecturer Dr Caroline Dickson, and honorary nursing lecturer and founder of Listen Up Storytelling, Dr Kath MacDonald, who worked with the community nurses to co-produce the toolkit and video.
Discussing the power of storytelling in healthcare, Dr MacDonald explained: “Storytelling has been used for centuries to entertain and engage.
“In terms of the benefits to healthcare professionals, using fairy tales and creative methods to share information and express oneself can distance the storyteller from the actual event and help to create a safe space.
“This is very important in the telling of traumatic stories and it is proving to be a powerful and useful platform to support our nursing professionals through challenging times,” she said.
The SEEDS project was funded by Catalysts for Change, a programme run by the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund.
Last April as the pandemic hit the UK, Nursing Times launched the Covid-19: Are You OK? campaign which continues to lobby for mental health and wellbeing support for the profession.
Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland elects new chair of council
Sir Paul Grice has been elected chair of council of the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland.
Sir Paul has been the principal and vice chancellor of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh since 2019, and previously served as clerk and chief executive of the Scottish Parliament between 1999 -2019.
Having served as a trustee for many prominent organisations, including Bank of Scotland Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council, Sir Paul has board experience in third sector, public sector and higher education groups.
Sir Paul was knighted in the New Year’s Honours List 2016 for services to the Scottish Parliament and voluntary services to higher education and the community in Scotland.
The trustees of QNIS council elected Sir Paul as chair in a meeting held on 27 August 2020. Former QNIS chair Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie officially welcomed Sir Paul as incoming chair on 15 February 2021 during the latest meeting of the QNIS council.
Sir Paul said “I am delighted and privileged to take up this role and I pay tribute to Sir Lewis for his committed and dedicated work as chair of QNIS.”
Clare Cable, QNIS chief executive and nurse director, said: “I am looking forward to working with Sir Paul Grice who brings his vast experience of governance to supporting QNIS into its next exciting chapter.”