Nursing in a pandemic- an opportunity to SMILE

Ive worked as a nurse for the past 28 years across many specialties in different services, But I can honestly say, this pandemic has brought about the greatest changes in healthcare practices both personally and Im sure, across the entire landscape of healthcare.

For the past year Ive had the privilege to work on the SMILE project (Supporting multimorbidities through integrated learning and Ehealth) Our many participant vary in age but all have an underlying condition such as hyper tension/ diabetes COPD etc. Each participant has tech provided to monitor their conditions, The key idea is to teach participants to manage their conditions better, reducing their hospital admissions.

I’ve personally had to alter my practice in a number of ways, during this pandemic. It’s been a sharp but rewarding learning curve.

I quickly recognized the need for a holistic approach in caring for people with underlying conditions. Many were fearful as they fell into the “at risk” groups, so required much reassurance.

While cocooning was regularly talked about, few fully understood the impact it would have on their family lives. Many were cut off, lonely and frightened. This impacted directly on their health. Gentle reassurance and a positive outlook was vital for these people.

Others embraced the lockdown and became avid walkers, an increase in steps, led to lower bps, weight loss and a sense of wellbeing. I have often been told “I saved their life” , when truth is, they saved their own life.

SMILE will never be a “one size fits all” service, Every call is as individual as the recipient.

Nursing with SMILE, during a pandemic is possibly the most rewarding experience of my nursing career. Its been a privilege to be able to protect, promote and optimise the health of our participants , during this challenging time, and hopefully into the future.

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Adapting to working from home on the SMILE project during the Covid pandemic has been relatively seamless.

The smile project is well suited to the home environment.
As a nurse the most valuable assest you have to give the participants is time.
Having time to give individual attention to participants in order to educate them on their specific conditions in a relaxed atmosphere has been hugely beneficial and successful to the participants and to me the nurse.

Time makes each contact a valuable learning experience to all involved and therefore hugely rewarding.

Education is the key to the success of the smile project. The participants learn at their own pace and education given can be reinforced with each contact. Little by little the participants have become masters of their own care. They can for see and manage many of their daily challenges without difficulty.

During the Covid pandemic lock down the participants have embraced the challenges of cocooning for the greater good. No matter how difficult they found it! They have taken total control of their conditions and it has been a privilege to see their overall health and well being improve.

Being involved in the Smile project has been one of the most fulfilling and satisfying nursing positions in my career to date.

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