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Bear with me on this – it will be worth it, I promise.

Get nurses talking about the past, especially our initial pre-registration nurse education and one of the things that will strike you is our memories of the people we have encountered.  We all remember people who, for one reason or another, funny or sad, good or bad, made a real impact on us.  I am no different.  My person of note from my student days was a lecturer called Olly McGilloway.  Olly was a seemingly gruff Ulsterman.  But all was not what it seemed, not by a long shot.  He was old school, smoked like a train in his office when he knew he shouldn’t and taught in what we might these days call a ‘traditional’ style, counting the minutes until he could leave the university and ramble along the rivers he loved so much – but Olly was fantastic.  He knew what nursing was and what it wasn’t and boy could he teach.

Now, you might ask, what is the link between Olly and Apollo?  Well, it’s more than you might think.  The day before my last examination in final year, Olly met a group of us students for some revision.  During the session he said something that has stayed with me ever since – and basically it was this.  As nurses we are always accountable for what we do and for what we do not do.  However, there is a world of difference between accountability and something else that thinks it is accountability – namely ‘recountability’ and we really should not confuse the two.  According to Olly being ‘recountable’ is a very poor relation for being  accountable.  For him, and I believe for us too, accountability was understood as, and I quote, ‘the boast of a proud professional who is delighted to invite the world to look at what they do, how they do it and the reasons for their actions.’  Apollo was born out of this very notion, the idea that nurses want nothing more than to give of the very best they have and, when equipped to do so, are delighted to invite the world to look on.  But therein lies the challenge.

Too often specialist nurses have developed lop-sided skill sets.  On the one hand we have become experts in caring for people with various diseases and disorders, providing high quality and life-enhancing interventions for our patients, clients and their families.  But on the other hand, whilst we have developed clinically, a different reality has grown up alongside and perhaps passed us by – the need to demonstrate the value we bring to people and services in a way that our managers and commissioners understand and value.  If, as Olly says, we want to invite the ‘world to look on’ then we need to embrace the challenge of demonstrating our worth using language that, up to now, we have largely not been taught how to speak. Individually we provide specialist services that are essential for patient care – we know it and our patients and clients know it.  But, today’s healthcare world is hallmarked by greater quality and greater choice, all paid for through ever keener use of finite resources.  In the future these hallmarks will grow bigger and if we listen to the prophets the available finances will grow smaller.  No one will make our future secure but us.  Being good at what we do, even being excellent at what we do is, of course necessary, but it is not enough.

Just as we individually excel in providing specialist nursing care so too, as individuals and crucially as a group, we can excel in demonstrating the worth of that care in terms that managers and commissioners understand and consider important.  This demonstration is not simply about confirming our place in the system – far from it.  Using the tools available in Apollo we can and will become fluent in speaking a language to convince others that our input is critical to the provision of a high quality, cost effective, patient-focussed, outcome driven,  safe, accountable and humane health service.   Don’t worry if you feel challenged by demands to demonstrate your worth – Apollo is here to help.  Together we can assist each other to grow stronger and become more visible.

You know, we nurses ‘get it’ – we understand that quality must be given and be seen to be given.  We ‘get it’ that resources are precious and limited.  But, we also ‘get it’ that as a resource we are crucial to the delivery of a quality, patient-centred service.  Now it’s time to use our inbuilt abilities with the tools offered in Apollo and show others just how much we ‘get it’ – to work smarter with our colleagues,  managers and commissioners to build maintain, enhance and create services.

Today we start a new chapter with Apollo.  We have not written everything that needs written – more is needed and more will be provided.  If we have not said things clearly enough, tell us.  If we have not provided enough of the tools you need, tell us.  If you think Apollo can help you, tell us.  Apollo belongs to you – you told us about the need and we responded.  At Apollo we are still listening. – I know Olly would definitely approve.

jerome Jerome Marley
Lecturer in Nursing
University of Ulster

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