Posted by: ayrshirehealth | April 1, 2015

Who cares by @Mz_KimB

The interests of people first

Self CareOn considering what to write about for this blog I reflected on what has been going on for me that was interesting and innovative that I could write about, especially given the calibre of writers that regularly contribute here. I quickly came to the conclusion that what was around for me may well have been interesting and relevant but the concept itself has been around since Peplau in the 1950’s – Self care!

Although self care has been around for decades I don’t think we are very good at it. Perhaps it goes back to some of the altruistic roots of health care, which I believe are still reflected today. The Code 2015For example The Code (NMC 2015), which went live yesterday, begins its statement of standards with ‘You put the interests of people using or needing nursing or midwifery services first’.

As a standalone statement it can easily be interpreted as the nurses’ needs always being secondary to the persons however there is an an abundance of literature that states in order to have the capacity to meet the needs of others effectively the nurse needs to first fulfill their own needs (Peplau 1951; Johnson & Webb 1995; O’Kelly 1998; Jezuit 2002; Deery 2005; Shapiro et al 2007; Heffernan et al 2010; Lombardo & Eyre 2011).

I don’t believe that this is what the NMC are trying to say here as reading the code in full highlights the need for self care and care of our colleagues.

While I am writing about nursing and generally frontline nursing I have no doubts that this will be the case for many other professions and people.

Ignoring decades of research

Having come out the other side of my Masters degree I still can’t work out where I got the time to do it.  PandaLife and particularly work still seems as busy as ever and my dreams of lazing around at home and having a tidy desk in work seem naïve at best.

Ironically though, my own dissertation also supported the need for nurses to be able to care for themselves and to care for each other (to ultimately best support people using our services).  So on reflection I realised that I have been ignoring decades of research… including my own!

If after spending months and months talking and writing about this and still not recognising that I need to look after myself a little more I thought that the blog would be a great opportunity reflect on my research findings and to bring it to the attention of others as well.   Running from clockI feel we often don’t think it is ok to put ourselves first and I have often seen colleagues exhausted and depleted because they haven’t felt able to give themselves the permission not to keep pushing on to do a better job or meet deadlines.

We also think that tomorrow, next week, after the Easter break or in my case after my dissertation we will have more time to do the things that nurture us as people and practitioners.

How many of us honestly have actually ever got to that magical tomorrow without actively prioritising it?

Self care – a caring essential

Given that we can’t make more time and many of us even felt the impact of losing that one hour last week, we need to get smarter about how we use our previous time. Increasing our emotional intelligence can support us in understanding ourselves and others in identifying unmet needs. CuppaWe can therefore use our time most effectively.

Attending to these needs does not need to be complicated.

For example getting a colleague a cup of tea when they haven’t had time to make one that day or making sure you leave on time so you can get to that gym class that makes you feel good.

Self care and care for others is in the everyday and it is essential so please take some time out for yourselves.

You deserve it!

This week’s blog was written by @Mz_KimB (Kim Barron), Staff Nurse, East Ayrshire Community Mental Health Team, NHS Ayrshire & Arran and Early Clinical Career Fellowship fellow.


Peplau, H., (1951) Toward new concepts in nursing and nursing education. The American journal of nursing. pp. 722-724.

Johnson, M. & Webb, C. (1995) Rediscovering unpopular patients: the concept of social judgement. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Vol.21, pp.466-475.

O’Kelly, G. (1998)  Countertransference in the nurse-patient relationship: a review of the literature. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Vol.28(2), pp.391-397.

Jezuit, D. (2002) The managers role during nurses suffering: creating and environment of support and compassion. JONA’s Health Care Law, Ethics and Regulation. Vol.4(2), pp.26-29.

Deery, R. (2005) An action research study exploring midwives’ support needs and the affect of group clinical supervision. Midwifery. Vol.21, pp.161-176.

Shapiro, S., Brown, K. & Biegel, G. (2007) Teaching self-care to caregivers: Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology. Vol.1(2), pp.105-115.

Heffernan, M., Griffin, M.,  McNulty, S. & Fitzpatrick, J. (2010) Self-compassion and emotional intelligence in nurses. International Journal of Nursing Practice. Vol.16, pp.3.

Lombardo, B. & Eyre, C. (2011) Compassion fatigue: a nurses primer. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol.16(1).


  1. Thank you for this interesting article … it leads me to ask if you would be free to accept an invitation to join in the @wenurses professional chat on Twitter on Thursday 16th April from 8pm till 9pm … the topic is “Convalescence” … a timely opportunity to share your knowledge and evidence base about self care?

  2. Kim, well said. If we cannot look after ourselves- I’m not sure we can look after other people well- at least not all people all the time. We do need to build in time for reflection on our own care as well as caring for others.

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