Falling through the gaps

I don’t know where this blog belongs but I know I have to share it so please forgive me as it’s not my usual subject matter.

Today was perhaps one of the saddest days of my life.  Today I walked into a beautiful garden full of toys that will never be played with. Today I stood with my friends and their family and wept.  Today we said goodbye to a baby boy that never was.  Today we hugged and kissed and wept.

From personal experience I know that that miscarriage causes such a deep loss for mothers, one moment you have all the hopes, dreams, expectation and aspirations of a new life and in the next moment all you have is emptiness.  A few weeks ago now my dearest and closest friend sent me a brief text saying “my baby has died” she was 20 weeks pregnant and her baby was the most wanted and cherished thing in all the world.  Things went quiet for 12 hours and though I sent regular messages to let her know that I was there for her I knew that she was probably in hospital and unable to answer – but never the less I kept sending them.  But I was wrong! She had gone to hospital with her partner but as her partner was unable to stay with her had then come home having arranged to go back the next morning…

My friend gave birth to her little baby son that night at home.  By the time the ambulance arrived the baby was lying in a toilet.  The ambulance crew took my friend to hospital but left her son where he was.  The next day I had a phone call and a cry for help.  As a nurse friend she asked if I could retrieve her son.  This was probably one of the most harrowing things that I have ever had to do as a nurse, as a mother and as a friend and I clearly remember taking a deep breath and thinking “have courage”  I was able to lift the little boy from the toilet but my heart broke in two when I saw what I had to put him in – the hospital had supplied a white bucket.  I sat on the floor of the bathroom for the longest time, holding this little baby boy, no bigger than my hand in my arms, not wanting to place him into the bucket.  In the end I took and deep breath laid him in it and stroked his head goodbye.

I am not a midwife and have no experience of midwifery except for the birth of my three beautiful children and the loss of my one beautiful baby, but I don’t think that this should have happened.  I cannot even imagine the trauma of having to do what I did if I was the mummy of this little baby – it would have torn me in two. To place a little life into a bucket is not dignified, it is not compassionate, it is heart breaking.  Because my friend was only 20 weeks pregnant she fell through the system, her baby was not officially a baby, her midwife stated was unable to do anything and that if she was 24 weeks then there were processes and support in place, so she was discharged form midwifery care.  She was no longer under the care of the midwife and no one picked up her care, until another nurse friend called the GP.  It makes me very sad and made me reflect greatly on my own practice as a nurse – who cares for the people who fall through the gaps? Should we not all take responsibility for these people when we see that there is no place for them? How many others fall through and have no health care professional to guide and support them? I don’t know the answers to these questions but I do know that the next time I see someone falling I will do my best to ensure that they get the support they need.

I wept today – but I wept with joy.  The little baby boy I had rescued and placed in a bucket was resting in peace in a tiny white coffin, he had flowers and teddies and love of his mummy, his daddy and all his family and friends….and I count myself very privileged to have been the only one amongst them to have held him in my arms.

5 ways to get more followers …or not!

twitter we nursesThis week saw @WeNurses hit 7000 followers which is some achievement considering this one Tweeting nurse started off just looking for one other nurse to chat with.  The reason 7000 is so important is that its 1% of the UK nursing population so it’s a number that has become a little bit of a milestone (you can read more on the WeNurses blog post “Why reaching 7000 followers is significant”) But enough small talk what you really tuned in for was to find out 5 ways to get more followers on Twitter …. so how do you reach 7000+ followers ….

horsesCar maker Henry Ford famously said (or not said as there is some debate over it) “If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses” and in the same ilk if I ask you what you want you will say more followers …. But is that really what you want? What does more followers get you? Well more followers for starters I hear you shout at your smart phones & laptops (doh!) but what then?  Well I will let you into a secret social media is not about follower numbers and if you haven’t xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx guessed by now I am not going to tell you how to get more followers – sorry!

15824014_sMy original aim with WeNurses which was to connect and chat with one other nurse, a conversation between two people is a valuable conversation that can impact practice and because of the amplification that Twitter offers and Twitters very public nature it is akin to holding that conversation in front of many people, enabling the conversation to potentially offer value to the masses.  I could have a million followers but if a valuable conversation does not exist then I am offering my followers no value and gaining no value from my followers.  Social media is not a broadcast media people want to get involved, they want to feel and be part of it, they want communities and they want to be active members of those communities.

cliffSocial media is not about numbers it’s about people. Social media is about being social, it’s all about sharing, it’s about the giving and receiving of something valuable be that knowledge, resources, information, news or laughter.  Yes 7000 followers is an achievement but it is not a great measure to prove effectiveness of social media.  Which leaves us with the cliff hanger of what measure do we use….

Tune in next week to find out more

Testing, testing..



On Thursday this week I got up very early and trundled off to London for the CCIO Annual Nursing conference. The conference had lots of great speakers but one speaker stood out for me:




Sarah Amani is a mental health nurse turned manager and I have been following her on Twitter and reading her blog “Mental Health Geek” for some time so I was very keen to learn more about her. Sarah gave a fascinating presentation about a mental health phone app that she has developed and whilst I did find this very interesting it was something that she said during the course of her presentation that really got me thinking. Technology is moving, developing and evolving at an exponential rate and because of this we are encountering problems in healthcare. Historically in healthcare anything new has been tested and assessed and then tested and assessed again then written about, then peer reviewed, then published and then we might think about dissemination. However Sarah’s point was that the difficulty we are encountering is if we apply this method to technology the technology will be outdated before we even get part way through the process. Well I could have shaken her by the hand (and in fact did!) because although Sarah was talking about phone apps the same applies to many technologies in healthcare including social media…

snailTaking twitter as an example: Twitter has only been around since 2006 and has really only taken off in healthcare in the UK over the past 18 months. This is a very short time period and the way in which individuals use Twitter seems to change as the mood takes them and with what’s on trend. However this doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable or doesn’t work as a healthcare communication and support tool but how can we prove it works if methods of proof are slower than a snails pace in a slow snail race on a slow day?

smNow those academics amongst you please brace yourselves and try not to break out into a cold sweat but I believe that we need to look differently at how we test this value. We need to consider the use of stories from those who we are trying to reach and those who find value and consider sharing this via blogs and encourage our peers to review via comments. Social media is very fast and constantly evolving but it is extremely unforgiving in that if it doesn’t work it isn’t shared and adopted, so we should also look to measures that show sharing and adoption. Whilst we are very good at measuring and collecting the numbers I think that with our social media projects we should encourage more review and comments to really start to prove worth and so we can ascertain what works and what doesn’t in a more strategic manner. I believe that this will help us to drive rather than fall into solutions but I would love to hear what you think?

A big thank you to Sarah Amani for providing me with the inspiration for this blog and food for thought !

To Schedule or not to schedule …


9136067_sI spend a lot of time lurking on Twitter, it’s amazing what you can learn by just listening (though yes technically it is watching as those IT boffins haven’t invented the “read aloud” option for Twitter yet!) It was whilst I was listening the other day that I came across a scheduled tweet that was sent out by a healthcare tweet chat, it was advertising their next chat.  Now I have never been a big fan of scheduled tweets as I believe that social media is about what is happening now you wouldn’t go to a party make one statement and then just walk out of the room! Social media is very akin a party in that it’s a very sociable place to be, people would think you very strange if you just said one thing and then left!!  .. I am diversifying somewhat, back to the point …. This tweet chat then had a response to their tweet with someone asking for more information and trying to engage them, of course no one was there to respond and the response came nearly half a day later.  Now forgive me if I am wrong but the point of being in a social media space for many organisations, particularly in health, is to engage and drive health related conversation  …. So why would you send out a tweet when there is no one to respond? I was somewhat confused so I did what any social media enthusiast would do and I asked Twitter …..

Some really great points were made in favour of scheduling tweets, but not all of them are good reasons to schedule –

1Handy for reminders of events – I take this point but have concerns that if you are not about to answer questions and queries you could really annoy the people you are trying to reach.



2Useful for targeting different time zones – Again a good point as we can be awake and using social media 24/7 but still if you are not about to actually engage people will start to wonder why they never get a response or get a delayed response.



3So organisations can make use of peak foot flow on Twitter – Ok so this is just silly!! If you know when the people you want to reach are online why aren’t you online too?




4Scheduled tweets can be used when you are around then you can just concentrate on engaging – This I really like and I have to confess that I sometimes use scheduled tweets in this way …. But don’t tell anyone ;D



5Useful to just point people to content but not as a conversation starter – mmm not so sure about this one, back to the party analogy .. would I say to someone at a party “Take a look at this great Nursing Times article I read recently” and then leave the party ? I am very much of the opinion that content is a conversation starter.


As healthcare organisations we should no longer be static broadcast organisations and social media is certainly not a broadcast media.  Engagement is key, be around less if you have to but engage with healthcare professionals and the people we care for.  As you engage more effectively you will become respected and known and people will start to advocate and promote your messages for you.  It’s worth the effort !



I would advise the next time you reach for the “schedule tweet” button to stop and think – are you going to be around to engage?