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'People have the wisdom and creativity to confront even the most difficult challenges'

Louise Condon
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Over the summer we ran a one-day World Café event to stimulate debate on contemporary professional issues. 

We gathered together over 200 nurses, midwives and students from across Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and Swansea University to engage with current issues in nursing and midwifery.

Inspired by the 70th birthday of the NHS, the aim was to stimulate debate, engagement and learning – providing insights to guide local policy and practice.

We were determined from the outset that the World Café would reflect true collaboration between the University and the Health Board. We chose this format as a simple and flexible format for hosting a large group dialogue. Groups of 20 delegates sat at small tables, and were invited to debate a question on a current professional issue. After 10 minutes of discussion, the group voted on whether they agreed or disagreed with the question posed.

Discussion was lively in all groups, and it was great to see students talking with experienced practitioners and managers, and sharing ideas about the future of their profession.

The topics for discussion were designed to be contentious and provoke keen debate. One question which provoked much discussion was whether pharmacy technicians have a role to play in administering medicines.

“In the final vote, 76% agreed that research was a priority”

Some advised caution due to concerns that nurses would be de-skilled. Nevertheless, at the voting stage, all delegates were in favour of this suggestion, with the overriding view being that the introduction of pharmacy technicians on wards would release more time for nurses to care, and there would be fewer drug errors.

Delegates also universally agreed that nurses as well as midwives should have regular clinical supervision, and that integrated working within the multidisciplinary team enhances the quality of patient care.

Some conflict was apparent in whether delegates perceived research as a priority in nursing and midwifery careers. Most were familiar with audit, and saw this as manageable and feasible part of their role, but many nurses and midwives identified barriers to participation in research such as lack of time, and not having appropriate skills. In the final vote, 76% agreed that research was a priority.

In view of the well-recognised need to develop nurses as leaders as well as consumers of research, this gives a clear indication of the necessity for on-going partnership working between the NHS and university departments of nursing. 

The underpinning belief of the World Café approach is that people have within them the wisdom and creativity to confront even the most difficult challenges. This World Café event gave nurses, midwives and students the opportunity to put forward their views on important questions.

One learning point for us was that we had included far too many topics for discussion – 10 in fact – and that around four questions to debate would have been the best use of delegates’ energy and enthusiasm.

However, feedback indicated that the day was a great success, and it was inspirational for the planning and delivery team to see how much the delegates enjoyed learning and participating in what was a celebration of nursing and midwifery.

We will build upon what we have learned from this event, and continue to invest in joint working to stimulate change which benefits patients and develops nursing and midwifery staff.

Louise Condon is professor of nursing at Swansea University and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board; and Alyson Charnock is corporate matron for quality and safety, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board,

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