Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Learning from the Jimma link

A group of Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) staff recently visited Ethiopia, as part of our link with Jimma Hospital. Here they share what they have learnt from the experience.

Susan Taylor, Clinical Pathology, and Link Co-ordinator

Back home in Nottingham now after a very busy two weeks in Jimma. This visit has had both positive and negative aspects, but it was wonderful to meet up with the hospital and particularly laboratory staff again and to work with them. 

This is the second year of the re-launched NUH-Jimma partnership and it is clear that the link is stronger. There is a commitment from staff in both hospitals and across disciplines to continue with and build on the things we have done together so far. One contribution which NUH may be able to make, is to management training. This was repeatedly quoted as a need for the staff in Jimma as the hospital develops and grows. So we have plenty to work on in the forthcoming year.

Kate Potter, Blood Transfusion

This was my first time in Jimma, and the trip was a wonderful experience. I had been to work in a laboratory in Malawi previously, and therefore knew some of what to expect. But each country has its own special characteristics and so I still found there were lots of things for me to take in upon arriving in Jimma.

We had a very warm welcome in the laboratory and during the two weeks we built great friendships with old and new acquaintances. For me it was reassuring to see that they were keen for us to assist them in developing areas of laboratory practice, and rewarding for us all when could discuss and investigate topics and learn from each other.

The laboratory staff had a very solid knowledge base and a good understanding of theory and practical techniques. Their awareness of their limitations was important, but did not restrict their enthusiasm to achieve further advances in the testing they provide and the interpretations they can give in order to assist the clinicians and ultimately the patients.

My two weeks at Jimma went by very quickly, but the time I spent with the team in the laboratory was thoroughly rewarding. It was something very special that I hope to be a part of again.

Martin Beed, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Critical Care

It has been a good two weeks in Jimma. There are clearly areas where Nottingham and Jimma can work together in the future; for example: providing visiting lectures for the new Anaesthesiology Residency programme, supporting the current Registrar visiting lecturer programme, and perhaps planning potential research collaborations. 

I also personally benefitted from the visit: for example: exposure to unusual or advanced pathologies that are rare in the UK, and learning techniques for how to provide a safe service in situations where resources are limited.

There are also less tangible benefits. The link, and most importantly our Ethiopian friends and colleagues who support the link, have provided me with different perspectives on health care, and renewed enthusiasm for my job.

Kathryn Draper, Practice Development Matron, Specialist Support

Ethiopia is a lush, green and vibrant country. Its people are passionate and proud of their roots, but also enthusiastic about change and developing towards being the best in Africa and the world. 

My personal experience of these exciting changes was the determination within the hospital to develop and educate the nurses, and to make them more confident in communicating about patients’ treatment with the doctors. I was lucky enough to contribute to this work, particularly with the ICU nurses, to provide them with the skills to perform a structured A-E assessment of their patients. They also gained confidence to communicate their findings to the doctors, which was both rewarding and humbling. 

Personally I have learnt about my abilities to be flexible, non-judgmental and remain calm and positive in intense situations. I have also gained confidence in my communication and educational skills, learning how to adapt these to a different culture and situations. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Jimma and feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to fulfil a lifelong ambition.

Clare Hepworth, Clinical Nurse Educator in Critical Care, and Link Co-ordinator

As always, it was wonderful to return to Jimma, meeting old friends and making new ones. The team achieved so much – as well as helping to improve laboratory services, Kate will be helping to plan the blood transfusion service for the new hospital in Jimma. Kathryn and I had a fantastic time teaching nurses, mostly from ICU, about A-E assessment. Martin has been helping with the new Anaesthetic Residency program, and is investigating ways in which NUH anaesthetists can work more closely with Jimma. 

Having spent much of our time meeting with colleagues throughout Jimma Hospital, Sue and I are now enjoying the challenge of working out how best to take the work of the link forward to next year.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Sara Deakin, practice development matron for older people and dementia, on dementia awareness

This week is dementia awareness week.  So what can we do to help the people we care for and their families live well with dementia?

I have been a nurse for just over 30 years and in that time I have seen massive strides in knowledge and treatment of cancer but more significantly the reduction in stigma associated with the disease.

Celebrities openly share their diagnosis and treatment. Angelina Jolie to name but one appeared in numerous newspapers and celebrity magazines sharing with the world her decision to undergo bilateral mastectomies to reduce he risks of developing breast cancer.

Whilst the tide is changing with dementia it is currently the most feared disease amongst adults over the age of 50years.


In 1597 Sir Francis Bacon said ‘Knowledge is power’. Without knowledge we struggle to understand and make important decisions. We need to use Dementia Awareness week to inform and improve knowledge of people across society but also to focus on reducing the stigma associated with the disease.

Secondly we need to support and enable our staff to provide dignified, compassionate and truly person centred care.

A significant part of my job focuses on training and education of staff. Not just nurses and allied health professionals but non-clinical front line staff such as porters, ward waitresses, cleaners, phlebotomists, ECG technicians and ward receptionists.

I encourage staff to see every person who has dementia as a unique individual. Someone who is a mother or father, brother or sister, husband or wife.

During his treatment for aggressive terminal cancer in 1995 Kenneth Schwartz said:

“Quiet acts of humanity have felt more healing than the high-dose radiation and chemotherapy that hold hope for cure”

He stated that is was the compassion shown by staff to patients can make all the difference to a patient’s experience of care.

These small acts of humanity are what mater to all our patients regardless of what disease they have but for someone who has dementia and is being cared for in hospital, a frightening and alien place, these acts of compassion are even more important. Being called by their preferred name, a smile and acknowledgement as you go about your work makes a difference. However, I truly believe the most precious gift we can give anyone is time, something we all complain we don’t have enough of.