Celebrate nursing’s pioneers – and the colleagues we’ve lost

This year’s International Nurses’ Day comes as we’re more thankful than ever for our nursing family. UNISON Eastern health committee chair Joyce Aldridge, a nurse in Essex, has this message.

Each year we celebrate International Nurses’ Day on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth – the founder of modern nursing.

It is an opportunity to pause and reflect upon all those pioneers who followed, who have contributed and help influence our practice and profession.

We have recently passed a milestone of 100 years since the Nurse Registration Act which requires all to undergo formal training that is regulated to a set standard ensuring competence and fitness to practice.

Our profession has evolved and strived to ensure the best possible standards of care which ensures that those who need us, are treated with dignity, respect and compassion.

Today in the year 2020, it is even more poignant than ever, as we face the biggest challenge that our profession has ever faced. Covid-19 has overwhelmed and consumed us. It has challenged us to the very limit of our abilities and tested our resolve.

Some of us have lost respected colleagues; some of us have lost loved ones; many of us have comforted the dying in the absence of family; all of us have had to work through our own fears; yet we have managed to continue to care for our patients.

This year, let us remember those pioneers, and the colleagues we’ve lost.

Let’s celebrate their lives, and let’s celebrate our profession, for how far we have come; and let’s look forward to the future for the many great achievements that are yet to come.

The day celebrates everyone in the nursing family. Sam Hemraj, a healthcare assistant and UNISON North West Anglia Hospitals branch secretary, has written this poem to mark the occasion.

Health Care Assistant

My patients are a-calling,
The bells are a-buzzing,
One wanting a bed pan,
The other crying in pain.

The bells are buzzing,
The dementia patient on a wander,
The other sitting still wondering
What is going on.

The bells are buzzing,
One shouting for a wash,
One wanting their dinner.
The dying patient needing some comfort.

You keep your smile
And carry on.
During these difficult times.