Listening to the next generation

Twycross zoo is the most unusual venue the Commission has visited in its quest to gather views on the future of nursing and midwifery. But monkey business wasn’t on the agenda and there weren’t any gorillas on the invitation list; instead we were talking to about 80 East Midlands young people regarding their experiences with nurses and their view of nursing as a career choice.

With ages ranging from five to eighteen, the delegates were divided into older and younger groups and while the youngsters were engaged about their perceptions of nursing, the older group was free to explore the zoo in the morning. After lunch, the groups swapped arenas.

Many of the children at the event – in both groups – have spent time in hospital and were asked, among other topics, how they viewed nurses. The younger group were asked to draw their perception of nurses while the older group talked of their interactions with nurses while ill. This group were also asked about nursing as a career option.

Organised by East Midlands Strategic Health Authority and a small working group, the children’s event was addressed by Commission Chair Ann Keen MP, who stressed how important young people are to the future of nursing and midwifery.

The day itself was run by facilitators from the Leicestershire Young People’s Council, who ensured things ran smoothly. The participants each left with a gift pack and tickets to return to the zoo with their families.

A “10 Downing Street” letterbox was set up so that the young people could write to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, expressing their views on the future of nursing and midwifery. Ann Keen promised that a group of the delegates would be given the opportunity to present the letters the Prime Minister in person at a later date.

The views gathered during the day will be put to nurses and health visitors at a later event for their opinions and will be reviewed by the Commission.