Shining a light on nurses and their contribution to healthcare in 2020

Ahead of Florence Nightingale’s 200th anniversary, Sarah Rickels, head of nursing at LloydsPharmacy Clinical Homecare, talks about the impact nurses have on their patients. She also shares her hopes for what Year of the Nurse will help to achieve for the profession.

The New Year brings with it the opportunity for reflection. When I look back on my career in nursing, I can honestly say there’s no other profession I’d rather be a part of. Nurses touch the lives of millions and most people would be able to think of an example where the care of a nurse has helped either them or a loved one. They are so important to so many people which is why I’m thrilled that the World Health Organisation has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. It gives us a real opportunity to shine a light on our nursing workforce and celebrate the vital role they play in caring for those that need it most.

LloydsPharmacy Clinical Homecare (LPCH) and MASTA Travel, employ over 300 qualified nurses. Our Homecare nurses support more than 80,000 patients by providing treatment to them in their own homes for a range of conditions. Our MASTA nurses enable patients to live better by providing wellness and travel vaccinations to make sure they stay healthy.

Having spent time working in hospitals, it’s apparent to me that homecare nursing is totally unique. We visit patients in their own home and can spend large periods of time with them, providing treatment which would have otherwise been administered in hospital. We are essentially guests in a patient’s home, and this comes with significant challenges, but most importantly, huge personal rewards for our nurses who get to see the impact that they have on a patient’s life. Our patients can remain directly involved in family life while receiving their treatment. It’s all about enabling them to live fuller lives and maintain their independence. This is the greatest impact that we can have on the people we care for and their families. When times are tough and we are facing day-to-day operational challenges, this is what I have to remember.

Pursuing a career in nursing is driven by the desire to help others and most nurses will be able to pinpoint the pivotal moment that inspired them to want to do the job that they do. For me, it was my father being diagnosed with a brain tumour and sadly passing away when I was 17. Throughout this time, I had regular contact with the world of healthcare. I got to see first-hand the impact that nurses can have on peoples’ lives and that’s what made we want to pursue a career in helping others.

I have been lucky enough to meet so many amazing nurses over the years – people who were born to provide care. If you don’t get to see it up close every day, it can be easy to take professions like nursing for granted – something I’m hoping will change during this year long awareness campaign.

Year of the Nurse doesn’t just give us the chance to celebrate the work of nurses, it allows us to reflect on why we joined the profession and remind ourselves why we do what we do. Nursing isn’t the job you take if you’re motivated by money or want to retire early, it’s the job you take if you truly care about making a difference.

I hope the Year of the Nurse will help to raise awareness of what nurses do, highlight some of the challenges they face and most importantly recognise their passion and patient-centred approach. As a business, we’re planning a number of activities and events throughout the year to shine a light on our nurses, starting with Rare Disease Day in February.

Nurses are fundamental to the future of healthcare and my biggest hope is that, by the end of 2020, this will be recognised worldwide.