18 April 2023

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A celebration of nursing

Heather Richardson shares her excitement for our May nursing conference and introduces our stellar line up of speakers

12 May 2023 is important to me for two big reasons.

First, it is the day chosen to celebrate International Nurses Day. I am fast coming to the conclusion that we don’t do enough to acknowledge the vital role of nursing in the delivery of care, and to recognise its unique contribution to the experience and outcomes of people who need help and support in times of ill health.

Then, it is also the day that we have chosen at St Christopher’s to host a conference focused particularly on how nurses advocate for themselves and become activists to get the best for those in their care – Reviving and advancing palliative nursing through action and advocacy. These roles are not new in our profession, but they have been forgotten in recent years, particularly in the UK. We, as a profession, continue to get on with our job, regardless of whether our voice is sufficiently amplified, our views acknowledged, or indeed whether our needs and value recognised through appropriate allocation of resources.

There are over 700,000 registered nurses working in the UK today, yet as recently as a few months ago ministers refused to negotiate with nurses to discuss our pay, even at the threat of strike action. Importantly, we know from research and personal experience that if we, as a group of professionals feel valued, supported and happy in our work, then the quality of our care is enhanced. And when this isn’t the case, the quality of care is undoubtedly compromised. If that isn’t a call for advocates or activists then I don’t know what is.

In response, we’ve created a conference programme that offers an opportunity for you to engage in a day designed to inspire far reaching and progressive discussions to empower you to be those champions of change – for you and the people you care for.

I’m really excited about the line-up of speakers we’ve secured, including leaders in the field from the US (Billy Rosa) and Canada (David Kenneth Wright) as well as the UK, Professor Greta Westwood, Dr Sarah Russell, and Dr Ros Taylor. Between them, our stellar speaker roster will cover topics as diverse and fascinating as the role of medicinal cannabis, how data can drive more personalised care and an up to the minute update on the latest radical treatments.

Everyone will have a chance to be a part of the conversation during a panel discussion and workshops. As I said earlier, we know that happiness at work plays a big part in the quality of care we give. We’ve been working with independent experts in this field, iOpener to survey 200 nurses on this vital topic. And we’ll be starting the conference with a roundtable discussion reviewing and reflecting on the findings and discussing how best to use them to influence recruitment, retention and support of nurses moving forward.

If you join us at the conference you’ll also be the first to hear about our new Global Palliative Nursing Network. Building on the success of and wide engagement with our recent peer-led support programmes like Palliative Discovery and Lantern Model, we’re now excited to be launching this global network. Thanks to a generous donor it’ll be free to join, for the first year at least, and provide nurses engaged in supporting people at the end of life – wherever they are in the world with a place to learn, share, support and grow together. While the plan will be to build on the successful rich mix of webinars, community of practice, library of resources and online networking opportunities, you’ll get a chance to have your say on the exact shape it takes, at the conference. We want every nurse that joins to feel like they have a voice in creating a network that is instrumental in helping them overcome any sense of isolation, disillusionment, knowledge gaps or burnout. Coming together as a network we really can help nurses advocate for themselves and become activists to get the best for those in our care.

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