The 'We Are Human' campaign

We are a team of six learning disability nursing students and two film and media students from Northumbria University.

We were asked by our lecturers to answer the question: 'What is nursing?’ After much thought, we decided that we all viewed nursing as intersubjective, and a partnership between the patient/client/service user and the nurse.

We concluded that, to work effectively together, we would need first to understand each other. With this in mind, we used social media to ask patients directly what they needed from nurses, and we asked nurses directly what they needed from patients.

To our surprise there was a distinct overlap of needs, with both parties saying that they needed:

  • Patience
  • Humour
  • Communication
  • Honesty
  • Understanding
  • And a smile

This provided a common ground between all fields of nursing, all kinds of patients, and, in effect, all human beings. It also inspired our campaign name, 'We Are Human'.

We hope the campaign will:

  • Give patients and nurses a voice.
  • Provide a platform where they can come together to achieve the same shared goals.
  • Encourage both parties to be mindful of each other’s shared needs.
  • Promote a culture of transparency, collaboration and unity.
  • Encourage all fields of nursing to unite.
  • Reassure the public that, as nurses, we share in their emotions, from joy to sorrow and frustration, as we too are human.
  • Bridge the gap between patients and nurses to create mutual understanding.


We wanted to promote a feeling of unity, community and togetherness to break down barriers and encourage a culture of openness, inclusion, equality and collaboration.

Our logo reflects this. It contains a blue fingerprint representing the individuality of every nurse, and a flesh-toned fingerprint representing the individuality of every patient. The two combine to create a heart, which is, in effect, what unites us all as human beings.

Caught up in the excitement of our findings, we then decided to make a campaign video. We allocated each of the six needs identified to a field of nursing, with a patient, covering the whole lifespan from infancy to the elderly.

Patience was represented in neonatal nursing; humour in children's nursing; communication in learning disability nursing; honesty in adult nursing; understanding in mental health nursing and, importantly, a smile should be given to everyone.

Each member of our team was given the role of a nurse or a patient in the film. This allowed us to step into the shoes of patients and nurses from other fields of nursing, and to see the world through their eyes.

We linked each scenario to current issues to ensure they were relevant and understandable. For example, the scene with the learning disability nurse portrays the process of identifying pain through communication, and the mental health scene shows a confused patient with dementia being nursed with understanding and without stigma. The scene where the children's nurse is upset portrays a colleague showing compassion, and the final lift scene shows the children's nurse on his way home after a long, exhausting shift, who is cheered up by the little girl he had made smile.

We think that the film shows that we truly believe nursing is of mutual benefit to the patient and the nurse. It is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. Nurses try their utmost with what they have, and sometimes this isn't enough, which has become evident in the current pressures on emergency department staff.

What we all must understand is that although each one of us is an individual, it is this individuality that unites us and makes us equal. We are human. We must now work together to achieve our shared needs and goals.

Our philosophy

  • We believe that every human being is an individual, and it is this individuality that unites us.
  • We propose that nursing is a therapeutic partnership based on trust, honesty and respect.
  • We pledge to uphold a person’s dignity and human rights while facilitating freedom, choice, equality and independence, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation or disability.
  • We will behave in a way that encourages others to be and feel positive by practising non-judgmentally and professionally, yet with a human touch.
  • We will deliver evidence-based care with a community, person-centred and holistic approach, with the aim of preserving, restoring and maintaining health, humanity and hope.

Whether you are a patient or a nurse, be patient, honest and understanding; communicate with each other, remember laughter is healing and lastly, don’t forget to smile.

Encourage others to do the same: spread the word; wear a badge or twibbon; share the video; or simply lead by example.

Visit the campaign on Facebook or at Twitter

Or email: wearehuman2015@gmail.com

And watch our campaign video on YouTube

About the authors

We are HumanRachael Scott, Louise Vallery, Diane Malaugh, Billy Irvine, Jennifer Finley, Emily Wrightson are nursing students at Northumbria University

Macauley Cullen and Cheryl Kecohh are media students at Northumbria University