OK, I realise I may be out of touch. I don’t watch soap operas and I thought Lady Gaga was a mouthwash.
I don’t understand how Come Dine With Me - which is essentially an opportunity to watch some strangers cook food you can’t eat and give it to people you don’t know - is any different to standing outside a chip shop. And I don’t get how Celebrity Big Brother can be remotely entertaining to anyone unless someone releases 40 snakes and some lions into the house.
And of course I realise - because I have been in nursing for over 20 years and I am compelled to reflect on my own frailties - that I am out of touch, not simply because cultural activity does not move me, but because it is not designed for me. I am a bald man in his 40s who likes obscure pop music and growing vegetables. I am nobody’s target audience. Unless you include Alan Titchmarsh’s wig emporium.
‘I don’t think of myself as grumpy. Usually. Hell, I’m absurdly optimistic most of the time. I still hold out hope that Bambi’s mum might get better’
More importantly I notice that my distaste or confusion may sometimes be expressed as grumpiness rather than bemusement and I don’t think of myself as grumpy. Usually. Hell, I’m absurdly optimistic most of the time. I still hold out hope that Bambi’s mum might get better. Indeed, I try to approach most things now with a quizzical uncertainty for fear of simply being grumpy or out of touch with its cultural or political resonance - and this is what I did last week in reading the discussion about whether or not community nursing should be a separate degree from what I imagine might be called ‘hospital nursing’. I read the article on nursingtimes.net and I found myself vaguely agreeing with lots of people who didn’t agree with each other. And then, inevitably, I got dizzy.
Because frankly I can’t help thinking that before we establish community nursing as a separate and distinct educational and professional route, we might like to address the anomaly that is mental health nursing not requiring distinct and separate training.
I may be being out of touch again here but I simply do not believe that mental health nursing is the same endeavour as adult nursing. It may have a similar objective (patient recovery), it may require similar qualities but a mental health nurse has more in common in their day to day work with a mental health occupational therapist or social worker, particularly if they are all working in a community mental health team, than with an adult or child nurse working in a hospital or a GP surgery. The skill base, the professional relationships and the role are all different.
So while considering the subtle distinction between community and hospital nursing, might we not also consider the wholesale distinction between adult and mental health nursing? Mental health nursing cannot be seen as an add on to its better populated sister and still play the role of which it is capable in leading progressive and recovery based services. It needs more educational time and attention than joined training offers. Patients deserve better. And so do student nurses.