Can nursing survive resource scarcity?

Thursday 12-03-2015 - 15:42

Providing cost-effective healthcare over the years ahead will mean thinking about sustainability in an integrated way.

Climate change won’t only impact public health, but also our capacity to actually deliver healthcare, especially in the face of depleted natural resources.

This is something which nursing and midwifery students are taking increasingly seriously, and at Plymouth University, these issues are being integrated into clinical skills sessions, and have engaged design students in the process.

Over 600 Nursing and Midwifery students have already taken part in workshops demonstrating the impact of resource scarcity on healthcare, while developing practical, sustainable alternatives.

“The sessions are based on research we have conducted in the NHS to investigate the potential interruption of supply to items used in clinical practice that are made from scarce natural resources”, explains Professor Janet Richardson.

“We also focus discussions on the appropriateness of waste segregation and the potential to reduce, reuse and recycle”

For today’s Nursing and Midwifery students, it’s easy to see why these are incredibly important discussions to be having during their time in education, even if it’s not a link already forged in some students’ minds.

“When we first walked into the clinical skills session… many of us were confused as to the relation of this to practice”, admits Becky, a Design student at Plymouth University. “However as the session progressed it became thought provoking, and clearly an issue that is bound to affect every one of us.”

Of course, just as important as highlighting the problems we face is creating the solutions. That’s why these sessions also involve the university’s design students.

“We recognise that sustainability solutions require a multi-disciplinary approach”, Janet explains. “Once these issues are discussed, design students produce sustainable prototype products to be tested by nursing students and lecturers”

Working collaboratively with the Nursing and Midwifery students allowed design students to evaluate and refine their ideas in a sophisticated way, leading to really positive feedback from the sessions, not to mention a huge range of actual, useful prototypes which are being used in application.

By doing this, Plymouth University is creating multi-disciplinary solutions to our current sustainability challenges – the sort of holistic approach which we need to see more of.

“Being involved in the project has been a rare opportunity to work with design students and get to generate new ideas and designs that are practical for the clinical setting”, Becky reflected.

“I feel privileged to have been part of the process and encourage any other students to do so in the future”

Plymouth University have packaged this evidence-based training into an online training pack, now marketed to the NHS and universities. Email here to find out more.  

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