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ROLE MODEL

Brewing a storm in a teacup

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Award winner, Care Maker and NHS Change Day campaigner Maria Davison is bringing back courage, common sense and cups of tea

“We’re all for clinical judgement, but where’s the human judgement?” pleads Maria Davison, the community nurse behind the Twitter NHS change campaign #Permission2brew.

Ms Davison’s NHS Change Day-backed initiative, which tweets from @CuppaCare, is about getting permission for nurses to spend five minutes having a cup of tea with a patient. “It’s just common sense, isn’t it? Why do we have to hide behind a curtain to have a drink, when we could be sitting with a patient who doesn’t have a visitor?” she asks.

“Why do we have to hide behind a curtain to have a drink, when we could be sitting with a patient who doesn’t have a visitor?”

It’s staggering to think that Ms Davison - winner of a Frances Jaye Care and Compassion Award in December for her work in the East Midlands - has only been nursing for three years. But having escaped a dead-end office job, she was determined to absorb herself in nursing from day one, upon qualifying in 2011.

The “naturally nosey” Ms Davison travelled to different areas, witnessing a variety of good and not so good practice. Nursing was not how she had expected it to be.

“What they tell you throughout the three years of training is true: you really don’t learn how to nurse until you’re a nurse,” she recalls.

Ms Davison toiled tirelessly on campaigns, such as Dementia Friends, and started a blog, proudtonurse.com, so her influence was soon felt, both in her workplace and the community.

She volunteers as a Care Maker, but argues that caring is something you cannot avoid as a nurse.”Being caring is not something that you tick off your daily ‘to do’ list,” she says. “The six Cs - care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment - are traits that most nurses have already. Having said that, it would be easier if there were seven Cs, the seventh being ‘change’ - a culture of change.”

“Being caring is not something that you tick off your daily ‘to do’ list”

Once Ms Davison became aware of “dated” rules that were seeming to limit her and her colleagues’ ability to care for patients, she could not ignore them. “I don’t mind the rules, as long as there is a reason behind them, but I won’t avoid doing things that clearly benefit the patient,” she explains. “Too many of us put up with the way things are because that’s the way things have always been, but I think we should do what’s right, not what some dusty old rule book tells us to do.”

Ms Davison has never been afraid to speak her mind, but her change-making has occasionally been received negatively. “It’s not always met with open arms,” she admits. “Sometimes when I question something, I end up being enlightened and realising [critics] are right. But sometimes they are not.

“But, I love a challenge,” she continues. “If someone tells me that I can’t do something, that usually makes me dig my heels in even more.”

With her most recent campaign, #Permission2brew, Ms Davison wants more than anything for NHS staff to get back their self-belief. “They all know it, they all want to do it. They can all see it’s the best thing to do. But there’s the fear factor in the way [of making change],” she says.

“We become nurses because we care. We don’t go to work for the money, do we?”

“The NHS has amazing staff who care. We become nurses because we care. We don’t go to work for the money, do we? So the NHS has got to start believing in the staff it’s got.”

Ms Davison is just at the start of her career, and yet her work is already affecting patients and nurses alike. In February, she received Elastic FM Community Awards’ Community Contribution of the Year for 2014.

“I’ve only just started,” she says, “but I always just believe that if you’ve got the courage to do what’s right, then the rest follows. Put it this way: I don’t go to work for Christmas cards. I go to work for the patients. I go to make a difference.”

Emily Hardy

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