Change the world through networking

Roisin Devlin explains why attending a conference and talking to people can make all the difference in implementing care.

When you go to a conference you look forward to finding nuggets of brilliance to bring back to your workplace and use to improve practice. With this expectation you scan conference programmes with highlighter poised, casting about for the presentations that will enhance your practice.

A twiddlemuff produced to help patients with dementia. Picture: Chris Balcombe.

But what conference programmes cannot indicate is what you could gain just by talking to people. After all, networking is not always the most popular term with nurses, and some may even regard it as unsavoury.

I, personally, find networking as useful as sitting in a room listening to a presentation.

At the 2nd Global Emergency Nursing and Trauma Care conference in Sitges, Spain, in September, I learned about successful working practices elsewhere simply by speaking to colleagues from around the world. Our department is looking to improve experiences of ED for patients with dementia and two colleagues who have successfully implemented initiatives elsewhere were able to give valuable information.

Simple ideas to make a big difference

One department had introduced a dementia trolley loaded with fiddle mitts (also known as twiddlemuffs in some trusts), old pictures and music. Another department had converted a cubicle to a dementia-friendly space with orientation boards and appropriate lighting.

Both of these are relatively simple ideas, even so they could make a big difference to a patient’s and their relatives’ experience in the ED. The ideas were not so different from projects we planned to implement, but it was great to hear from departments which are a few steps ahead.

Reconnecting with colleagues

I also realised that in many areas we are doing well and that our struggles are not unique. I was able to connect with colleagues who live thousands of miles away and know that despite our different issues, we all want to improve patient care and make our EDs a good place to work.

I left the conference feeling rejuvenated and ready to change the world. Part of that was due to the presentations but most was through talking with like-minded people and making new contacts.

Next time you are at a conference, seminar or study day find someone you’ve never spoken to before and make a new connection – you never know where it will lead.

About the author

Roisin Devlin

Roisin Devlin is lead emergency department nurse at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland

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