Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Enter the Dragon - at the Nurses' and Midwives' Conference in Killarney

With Norah Casey, my new Twitter friend!
Last week I spent three very busy full days in Killarney at the Irish Nurses and Midwives Annual Delegate Conference (INMO). It was great to get together with friends and colleagues for a celebration of what we do best, and catch up on the news and the gossip over the past year, as well as developments in nursing and midwifery on the national and international stage. I'm not going to bore you comatose with too much detail; suffice to say that the conference is an ideal opportunity to recharge the batteries and have fun at the same time. 

We had a number of motions debates, and a wonderfully inspiring keynote speaker in Norah Casey from Ireland's Dragon's Den. She was a nurse in an earlier life, and spoke warmly and very movingly about her late husband's death from cancer last year, and the great care he got from the nurses in Blackrock Hospice. I'd heard her speak on Marian Finucane's Saturday programme on RTÉ Radio back in February, and she had the nation spellbound with her openness and honesty in talking about her late husband so soon after his death. She also shared her Top Ten Tips for Success - 9 of them at any rate - and No. 1 was Tweet Tweet! Which she does, @NorahCasey and she had already been tweeting about the conference since the previous week's Dragon's Den with me and some other Tweeting nurses. 

Some of the Waterford Branch Delegates 
Compare and contrast Norah's 42 minute address and her Top Ten Tips for Success with the 9 minute address from Minister for Health Dr. James Reilly the following day. We were all wondering what he would say to inspire and encourage us in these dark gloomy recessionary days - and we're still waiting and wondering why he bothered to come to Killarney. He spoke on nurse prescribing which has been around for enough years to not be news anymore, and about the need for flexibility in changing work practices. This is a none-too-subtle toe-dipping exercise in bringing back shorter and possibly split shifts.  The latter will go down like the proverbial lead balloon as they are the most appalling family-unfriendly soul-destroying work practice, which I did as a student but would strongly resist if they come back. What nurses don't need or want is the erosion of the profession on cost grounds or that we are seen as replacement doctors - there's a sense that role expansion could be seen as a value-for-money exercise by the bean-counters, while we want role expansion to be within the realm of nursing and not a medical model. There's a sense of a widening theory-practice gap with health economics the driving impetus rather than the patient journey. The nurses among you will know what I mean. I hope you watch the two videoclips. 

Essene, Grainne and me, PHN reps from Waterford
There's a soul-destroying recruitment embargo going on for the past four years that means posts are not being filled on retirement and staff aren't being hired. The waste in training nurses for export as they can't be hired in the public sector is a tragedy and we are all hopeful that the powers-that-be see sense and give work to the expensively trained nurses in Ireland and that we return to a time where we emigrated from choice not necessity, just like I did back in the '70s and '80s.

Waterford's Claire Mahon speaking to a motion
Handover of the Presidential Chain of Office

Ending on a lighter note, the highlight of the conference for the Waterford Branch (of which I was a delegate) was surely the election of our Chairperson Claire Mahon as President of the INMO for the next 2 years. Claire has been on the INMO Executive for the past few years and it was terrific that she was elected. We wish her every success in raising the profile of nursing and the profession at large in her term of office. We partied well into the night on each night, as is our wont at such gigs, and even though I missed the Gala Ball on the Friday night, having come home early for a weekend away (more of which anon) I enjoyed the two nights I spent in Killarney. We came second in the opening night's Table Quiz which raised 2000 Euro for the Kerry Rape Crisis Centre, and were beaten by a mere point. That event has become a conference fixture and is very enjoyable, with the inimitable Dave Hughes as Quizmaster who brooks  no challenge - the only right answer is his one! Dinner and awards the second night was followed  by dancing the night away, the only exercise we got, as the days were full on. The weather was awful, dull and wet, and only on the final day did the sun come out, making for a lovely 2 hour journey home that evening.

Next day we headed for The Burren in Co. Clare for a reunion and walk with a  number of old friends - the next blogpost will tell all!

The Gleneagle Hotel and Conference Centre, Killarney


kathy b said...

WOW I can o nly thank you as a nurse for nora casey's lecture. I had no idea coming to your KNIT blog would lead to this incredible speech. She is right on so many counts....
i love her positivity. I'll be back to your blog

kathy b said...

WOW I can o nly thank you as a nurse for nora casey's lecture. I had no idea coming to your KNIT blog would lead to this incredible speech. She is right on so many counts....
i love her positivity. I'll be back to your blog