Care, Compassion, Communication, Competence, Commitment and Courage - the 6Cs.
To some, this list may just appear as clever alliteration but, to others, it is the basis of the new vision for nursing and midwifery set out by chief nursing officer Jane Cummings and the Department of Health’s director of nursing Viv Bennett at the CNO conference last year.
This event not only brought together hundreds of nurses to launch the new strategy - it also introduced a new role, that of “care maker”.
Following the Gamesmakers’ Olympic legacy, we were asked to submit 100 words on why we would be great care makers. Then 50 student and newly qualified nurses were selected from 250 applicants, and made their way to Manchester to become the face of the conference and the voice of the 6Cs. We helped to organise, support and promote and, in return, were granted the opportunity to attend talks and meet some incredible people - including each other.
Though our role is still being developed, we are primarily ambassadors for the vision, advocates for nursing and champions of good practice. It is our aim to share the message of the 6Cs - a vision that condenses centuries of nursing knowledge into the core values that define what we do. We hope we can get people excited about nursing again and, maybe, even restore a little of the pride lost by a profession that has taken quite a battering of late.
Of course, we do not expect to fix all the problems within nursing, and we are not oblivious to the fact that more nurses and better resources are desperately needed to improve care.
It is important that excellent practice is shared, and we hope to learn this from our experienced colleagues and pass it on. We are not here to tell more experienced nurses what to do or how to do it, and we are most certainly not David Cameron’s little minions sent to inspect and criticise. Any poor care we encounter will be dealt with in the same way as it would by any other nurse, by following whistleblowing policy and reporting it to our seniors.
You may question why all nurses are not care makers, or why experienced nurses were not asked to take on this role. As students and newly qualified nurses, we are ideally placed to reach more people than your average nurse on a ward through our network of university and placement contacts.
This is not to say that other nurses cannot take on the role, or that it is not part of a nurse’s role already to share good practice. It is merely that we have not yet had the enthusiasm and idealism squashed out of us by the demands of an increasingly difficult job - and, perhaps, through the development of a national network of care makers to support each other, we never will.
Call us hopeful, call us naive - but we are the nurses of the future. We are the managers and leaders of the future and we are convinced that we can make care better.
Laura Carter is third-year student nurse at the joint faculty of health, social care and education, Kingston University and St George’s, University of London