“Love is being stupid together,” so recants French poet Paul Valery. While we feel there’s a grain of truth to that, it does sound a little corny and decadent. As Heart Month draws to a close, here’s a more interesting truth to focus on: real love is being smart together… Why do we love our NHS so much? The NHS is a lifesaver: we work in it, care about it, and owe everything to it. For nurses, carers, or volunteers in our local neighbourhood, the informal relationships with friends, neighbours, and colleagues are at the heart of our personal journey, inside, and outside the NHS and care system.
In nursing practice, it is the relationships we nurture and develop that become the crucible in which we share, learn, and deepen our understanding of the way the world works – and there has been a great deal of love about to make great care work well, at local level.
It’s time to flip the learning and get our patient experts to train the professionals, alongside the specialists and the generalists.
Over the coming year in Greater Manchester, we will be working in collaboration with fantastic patient educator Nick Hartshorne-Evans and his specialist team from the Pumping Marvellous Foundation. The only UK patient led charity founded to provide support and hope to patients with heart failure, and their families.
We plan to train up community nurses and care home staff, raising the profile of heart failure awareness across Greater Manchester. Historically nurses are trained solely in pathophysiology, disease progression, and their ability to spot signs and symptoms of ill health. Whilst all of this is important stuff, we know that patient outcomes could be better, in terms of living well, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions. and supporting people to have a better quality of life.
Nick and his team believe it’s time to flip the learning and get our patient experts to train the professionals, alongside the specialists and the generalists. There is a shortage of qualified nurse mentors within primary care, and an acute shortage of nurse mentors within the nursing home and social care setting.
Here in Greater Manchester, we have a strong ethos of team working and partnership. So, I won’t be doing this alone. I will be working closely with other members of the Nursing Team at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, most notably our Deputy Director of Nursing, Helen Barlow. Like me, Helen feels strongly that we need to give our nurses the best support we can in accessing mentorship and specialist advice. With this in mind, we have set up a ‘Marvellous Mentor Programme’ across Greater Manchester, in partnership with local communities, carers, and clinicians. Our nurses will be able to access advice and signposting from specialist colleagues via a dedicated telephone ‘Heart Line’ in addition to receiving specialist training, access to an online learning platform, and mentorship in cardiovascular disease.
This will take time and resource, so isn’t it about time that primary and community care was put firmly on top of the government’s ‘love list’?
As nurses, we need to really appreciate and understand what it feels like to live with a long term condition. Although it’s vital to listen to people’s stories, it’s equally important to learn from those stories and work with them! Patient Experts are leading and transforming care, and supporting the work of primary care within our health and care systems. If we weave our destiny together with our patients, communities, and our health services, we can truly catalyse our sleeping potentials, sharpen our perceptions, and boost our emotional and analytical intelligence. This is not just romantic notions; it’s happening in Greater Manchester on a larger scale to support change and forge the way for better care.
This is the love, work, and care we would all love to see played out every day, in every practice, and every community. This will take time and resource, so isn’t it about time that primary and community care was put firmly on top of the government’s ‘love list’? We certainly think so. We need to be able to work across boundaries, alongside our neighbours to develop those relationships with colleagues in social care, secondary care, community care, and beyond. Making time to care is integral to quality care and practice. Let’s make a vow and promise to do whatever necessary to fully embody the principle “love is being smart together”.
For further information about this project, please contact Louise Brady, Primary and Community Care Lead at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.