We Nurses: Communication and Compassion

wenursesEarlier today (Cairns time) Nurses from the United Kingdom and Australia came together on Twitter to discuss issues raised by the death of a colleague. This matter has received a lot of media and social media publicity over the last two weeks. The Twitter chat was hosted by UK social media portal www.wenurses.co.uk – thanks must go to Teresa Chinn for her time and enthusiasm in bringing this chat together.

During the chat thirty-three (33) participants used the #wenurses Twitter hashtag, there were 360 Tweets, and the potential “TweetReach”/impression of the chat was well in excess of one million views (data courtesy of www.symplur.com).

The content of the Twitter chat has been curated and organised as below. This is my subjective arrangement (that is: subject to disagreement – another curator may have made different decisions about what to include/exclude). The intent of curating the content is to clearly identify the themes that emerged during the discussion, and to assist understanding by arranging the themes under subject headings. Twitter is a vibrant, immediate tool, but conversations do overlap in an asynchronous manner; consequently, comments appear to be jumbled/out-of-context if the transcript is read strictly in chronological order.

The headings and sub-headings that emerged are:

    • Preliminary Information
      • Introductions
      • Setting the Tone
  • First Issue: Communication & Confidentiality
    • Sub-Issue: Patients and Mobile Phones.
    • Sub Issue: Social Media
    • Sub-Issue: Individualising Communication & Confidentiality
    • Sub-Issue: WiFi for Hospital Patients
  • Second Issue: Compassion
    • Sub-Issue: Prank Call
    • Sub-Issue: Targeted Crisis Support
    • Sub-Issue: Clinical Supervision (aka Peer Supervision, aka Guided Reflective Practice)
    • Sub-Issue: Supportive Workplaces
    • Sub-Issue: Preventative/Early-Intervention Resources
    • Sub-Issue: The 6Cs (Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage & Commitment)
    • Sub-Issue: Integrating Defusing Emotions into Clinical Practice
  • Finishing-Up:
    • Key Learnings
    • Closing Remarks
    • Farewells

The curated version of the discussion is presented using Storify – I urge you to browse through the posts by clicking here.

WordCloud created from the full transcript of the #WeNurses Twitter chat

WordCloud created from the full transcript of the #WeNurses Twitter chat

A Comment and Two Questions

Jacintha Saldanha, a Nurse living and working in Britain, died a fortnight ago – just a few days after been inadvertently involved in an Australian radio station prank. Earlier this week her funeral was held in her home town in India.

Jacintha’s death made news headlines in the United Kingdom, India, Australia and elsewhere day after day after day; all manner of media commentators and armchair critics were asked to trot-out their opinions on the matter. As far as I saw, not many media outlets ever got around to speaking to nurses/nursing organisations about the nursing perspective.

At the same time mainstream media was giving the subject saturation coverage, social media erupted with reactions. Sometimes – far too often – responses and opinions were unhelpful and misinformed. Some very nasty and stupid stuff has been Blogged, Tweeted and Facebooked.

questionsAs mentioned in an earlier post, despite the inclination of many to point fingers, the truth is that suicide is a complex matter that should not be blamed on a single event or single interaction. Thoughts of self harm are most likely to occur when significant, long-term stress, depression, anxiety or other mental health problems are present.

Out of respect to Jacintha’s family, friends, workmates and the Coroner’s Court, we did not speculate about her life and death on today’s Twitter chat. It is note-worthy that the prank phone call received barely more than a mention in today’s Twitter chat.

Today’s Twitter chat was not about Jacintha, it was not about radio DJs, it was not about the media, it was not about the lack of understanding of suicide, and it was not about social media being used as vehicle for ignorance.

KeepCalmToday’s Twitter chat was about Nurses using social media in a constructive manner, and responding to the highly publicised death of one of our colleagues with thoughtfulness and grace.

The content of today’s Twitter chat raises two questions:

  1. Does this hour-long chat between nurses via Twitter contain more calm, practical wisdom than nearly everything else written about this sad event to date?
  2. If the answer is to question 1 is “Yes”, why didn’t the media ask nurses for an opinion on what the salient issues were?

Today on Twitter #WeNurses identified and discussed the salient nursing issues: communication and compassion.

In Closing

mindhealthThinking and talking about suicide can be distressing; be assured that there are always supports available:

In Australia

Lifeline phone 13 11 14 or visit www.mindhealthconnect.org.au

In the United Kingdom

Samaritans ph 08457 90 90 90 or visit www.samaritans.org

In other countries

The world’s most popular search engine (Google) displays a picture of a red telephone and the helpline phone number if searching for a suicide-related topic.

Paul McNamara, 21st December 2012

3 thoughts on “We Nurses: Communication and Compassion

  1. Pingback: That Was Bloody Stressful! What’s Next? | meta4RN

  2. Pingback: Omnipresent and always available: a mental health nurse on Twitter | meta4RN

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