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12th May 2021

International Nurses Day – The Impact of Florence Nightingale Today

We are unlikely to forget the images that have beamed around the world of the impact of the COVID pandemic in India, in Italy last March and other countries including here in the UK. Witnessing those scenes, as we celebrate International Nurses on May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth, issues that she brought to the fore over 165 years still have relevance today.

Florence Nightingale used data to evidence that good ventilation, light, nourishing food and exercise were important factors in the promotion of good health. Her data modelling showed that the reduction of infection was linked to spacing the beds further apart, a Victorian version of social distancing. She used science to ensure safer care was provided and paved the way for health improvements with the measures she introduced reducing hospital death rates in the Crimea by two thirds.

In 2019, Andrea Sutcliffe, the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) Chief Executive and Registrar, said ‘It is incumbent on all of us to promote, champion and strengthen our social care nursing community - who really are the heart of our local communities - now and for the future.’

The importance of feeling safe in our own home and community is something that will resonate with many of us after this year. What I believe the pandemic has achieved, despite the many challenges faced by the social care sector, is emphasising the crucial part nurses play in supporting people to feel safe and cared for in their communities whether they live in a nursing home or are receiving support with complex needs in their own home. For years, social care nursing has been portrayed as the Cinderella service. I believe the tide has turned. As we mark 2021 International Nurses Day with the theme ‘A Voice to Lead - A vision for future healthcare,’ it is a good time to reflect on the last year. It is equally important to build on what we have learned and the strides that have been made to ensure that social care nurses are front and centre of the future of care. Happy International Nurses Day to all my Nurse colleagues!

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Philippa Shirtcliffe

QCS Clinical Policy Lead

Philippa Shirtcliffe is Head of quality at QCS. She is a registered nurse with over 30 years working in Health and Social Care. She has had varied career undertaking operational and strategic leadership roles within social care. Read more

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