Spirit of Florence Nightingale alive in Blue Care Gracemere
Service Manager for Blue Care Gracemere, Fione Lutchman is celebrating her 20 years in nursing and looks back at her life painted by numbers.
20 is a big number for Fione; her career milestone also sits in-line with the World Health Organisation’s 2020 Year of the Nurse and Midwife which marks the 200th anniversary of the renowned Italian nurse Florence Nightingale.
In her day, Florence was heralded for her extraordinary care, written skills and spirituality - and one might even suggest several striking similarities between her work and the approaches Fione takes to hers.
“I’ve been very blessed in life to have cared for tens of thousands of people. I feel like this is it for me. I’ve found my place where I can do my best work and with the most supportive group of people from my team to head office, and our community.” says Fione.
At 45 years young, Fione has worked across 3 continents as a registered nurse, clinical nurse, critical care nurse in both public and private hospitals, and is rounding towards her 7th year working in the aged care sector in both fee-for-service and not-for-profit organisations.
Fione grew up with her family on the island of Trinidad, off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean, and just over 20 years ago emigrated to the UK to pursue her career with her husband who was also studying to become a nurse.
“I have experienced life and death in both my personal and professional life, and this has given me insight into what really matters - good health, mental balance, the wellbeing of our family and friends, and the spiritual kindness in our hearts.”
Fione believes that the best nurses understand what others are feeling especially when it comes to grieving the loss of a loved one.
“As my dad got older I realised that I wanted to be able to look after him. When I lost him my heart broke and it made me realise I needed to be there for our elderly. He shaped me, really.”
“It’s made me more empathetic with our people during their stages of grief. Sometimes they’re angry, but it’s important for them to get those feelings aired.”
“It’s important that we continue to educate relatives during their stages of grief. Some people might palliate for years and that means relatives and residents might have lots of questions and that’s when they need us. Right from those early stages we can take an empathetic role and plan with the needs and wishes of the family for the end stages. It’s so important to establish that baseline in building long term trusting relationships.”
Fione believes that the best way to maintain trusted relationships is by hosting regular case conferences with families to have them actively involved in their loved one’s decision-making process.
From there, Fione says that the most important thing every nurse can do is actively listen.
“Our team gives 100 percent every day and we do this by showing that we understand. We all take time to tune in and show empathy - we can all pick up when someone is uncomfortable or in pain. If someone says they don’t want something, we listen to their rights to choose and decline. We take time to appreciate their boundaries and ensure we’re always listening even when the feedback is hard to hear. We need to be advocates for our people.”
“I’m always positive and looking on the bright side of life - maybe the Caribbean sun has affected me, but I know that if someone is feeling down we all need to pool our concentration and build pathways to solve whatever is causing that.”
Outside of building advocacy within her service, Fione says that all nurses have to love their job and that the responsibility starts with them being happy in themselves.
“Find ways to prioritise you. You can’t do everything all the time and making time for yourself always seems to come last.”
Fione says that all nurses and carers can reinvigorate themselves by making time to stop, walk around their workplace and by spending time with residents just having a chat.
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