Today marks the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale, the statistician who paved the way for modern nursing and social care. Born in 1820, she served as a manager and educator of nurses during the Crimean War and fought to raise standards within the nursing profession.This day is also known as International Nurses Day, a day in which we pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of those in the nursing profession.
Florence Nightingale will forever be remembered as an icon of the Victorian times, often referred to as “The Lady with the Lamp”, due to her tireless hours doing the night checks on the wards. She is known for her dedication to providing better care to those who needed it, particularly seeking a solution from the Government for the poor hygiene and short medicine supplies in hospitals.
Throughout her career she fought hard to establish nursing as a credible profession. During the Crimean War she used funds obtained from The Times to purchase more equipment needed to properly care for soldiers with Cholera. She was praised for her attention to standards of care including not just the necessities such as bathing, clean clothing and food, but psychological needs such as education, recreational activities and contact with loved ones via letters. These accomplishments meant that the mortality rate under Nightingale’s care was down to around 2%. Sadly, Florence herself came down with something known as Crimean Fever, which she battled with for some 25 years after that, and often the disease would confine her to her bed.
Nightingale was described as kind, loving and dedicated to her work, everything that a good carer should be, and her values live on through something called the Nightingale Pledge – an oath taken by new nurses entering the field.
Little did we know that the celebration of her bicentenary would be even more poignant in 2020, a year where we have seen the biggest strain on our hospitals since the Spanish Flu. With much of the world on Government-enforced lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we are more grateful than ever for the work done by medical staff, including nurses and care workers, and we’re sure Florence herself would be extremely proud of each and every one of them.
To pay tribute to Florence Nightingale and all of our current frontline NHS workers on International Nurses Day, everyone is encouraged to shine a light in their windows tonight as a sign of gratitude for all they have done and continue to do. Many retired nurses and care workers have returned to the profession during this time to help the hospitals who are severely overcrowded and while conditions have improved greatly since Nightingale’s time, 200 years later, nurses are still fighting for improved working conditions and better pay, as we see NHS staff pleading for more protective equipment in hospitals where they are working on the front line treating those with Coronavirus.
In 1857, The Nightingale Trust was formed and Florence used the £45,000 donations to set up a nurses training school in London. Today, this charity is still going strong and funds raised provide financial support which goes towards the course fees for nurses, midwives, community public health nurses and healthcare assistants. With the current strain on our NHS, applications are set to increase rapidly, with more and more students looking to start their nursing careers to help save lives just like Florence Nightingale did. You can donate at https://www.thenightingalefund.uk/donating.
From all of us at Nourish we wish Florence a happy 200th birthday, and a huge thank you to all the nurses working hard today to keep us all safe and well, you’re true heroes!