Meet Our Southern Nightingales

A day in the life of our Southern Trust Nightingales….

2020 has been recognised as the “International Year of the Nurse and Midwife”. A cohort of 15 nurses and midwifes from across our directorates have been given the opportunity to undertake the Nightingale Programme.

Although COVID-19 stalled the programme temporarily, it has now recommenced allowing this group of staff to participate in a range of developmental and leadership opportunities.

We have asked them to reflect on their experiences as young leaders whilst working during the COVID-19 pandemic and hope to present their journeys over the coming months.

  • Michael McMullan, Mental health Nurse based in Community Addictions

    Michael has compiled his reflection into a poem:


    Coronavirus (March 2020)

    On every news channel

    There’s an eerie sense of doom

    With the constant echoing message

    Of “the worst will be here soon”


    We’ve only got the start of it

    There’s plenty more to come

    So please wash your hands

    After you wipe your bum


    Things are getting worse

    New measures are now in place

    Stay six feet from others

    And don’t touch your face


    Cough into a tissue

    Or sneeze on your sleeve

    Disinfect the house

    After the neighbours leave


    The panic has set in now

    Around the world as a whole

    We’re running out of patience

    And fighting over toilet roll


    Pasta is getting scarce

    Hand-gel I cannot find

    People are going crazy

    And starting to lose their mind


    We’re feeding our fears needlessly

    Heeding stories from any source

    It’s only the advice from specialists

    We have to listen to and endorse


    Schools are now closed

    And social distancing is key

    Stopping this coronavirus

    Is down to you and me


    So distance yourself from others

    Don’t let them in the house

    But there’s no getting rid of

    The children or the spouse



    If you have any symptoms

    Like a temperature or a cough

    Please just be sensible

    And isolate yourself off


    Take the advice seriously

    And give your doctor a ring

    We have to help one another

    Until we get over this thing


    Don’t visit the elderly

    Or those at high risk

    Bring them their essentials

    But make the drop off brisk


    This virus has no borders

    Nor does it discriminate

    So if there’s a chance you have it

    You need to hibernate


    Be kind to each other

    And go that extra mile

    Help those in need

    And make a stranger smile


    For it is in this adversity

    That we will find the value of life

    That respecting others matters

    Whether it’s a stranger or your wife


    Don’t leave another to suffer

    In pain or in distress

    It is more than just you

    Trying to survive this mess


    We’ll have to be creative

    Playing in our back yards

    Getting out the board games

    Or playing a game of cards


    Take this opportunity

    To have some valuable family time

    It won’t always be easy

    Listening to each other whine

    It’s good to see some humour

    When it is done in good taste

    We will get through this hardship

    Like all the others we have faced


    But please be sensitive

    And show compassion too

    As people will suffer heartbreak

    They have loved ones like you


    So think about the vulnerable

    And only buy what you need

    If we stick together, while staying apart

    We are sure to succeed


    In these hard times we will stumble

    But may we never fall apart

    Never give up on each other

    Find the kindness in your heart


    So be kind to one another

    And give your hands a good clean

    And as the world comes together

    We’ll defeat COVID-19


  • Ciara Murphy, Adult Learning Disability Nurse working in Newry and Mourne

    The World Health Organization designated 2020 as the “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,” in honour of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Little did I know that indeed it would be the year where we as a nursing profession stepped up to battle the COVID-19 pandemic together.

    I had a dual role during the pandemic. As well as a learning disability nurse working within a community adult learning disability team, I also was a link nurse who supported colleagues in the independent sector, nursing homes and supported living facilities. This role involved training and supporting staff and facilities with infection prevention control measures and the appropriate use of PPE and to ensure that all facilities were aware of the updated PHA guidance at all times. This role gave me the opportunity to upskill myself in areas that typically learning disability nurses do not have the opportunity to which will positively change the way I will work in the future.  We were supported in this link nurse role by senior team leads who communicated regularly with us, this was a wonderful resource to have and showed me the essence of effective leadership, which I hope to model going forward in my career. For me I have grown both personally and professionally and with the added knowledge and skills it helped me gain confidence in providing a leadership role within various settings in relation to COVID-19.

    Key leadership skills that I was able to demonstrate included crisis management, working through competing demands, dealing with difficult situations and having difficult conversations. Subsequently I have gained resilience, self-assurance and composure which will help me to continue in my current busy role and role model for other nurses / staff within my team

    Unfortunately, I had first-hand experience of dealing with a service user and their family who sadly lost their life to COVID-19 during this pandemic. This was a surreal experience for me as a young nurse who had a good rapport with this service user and their family and I had to manage my emotions and maintain composure to ensure I was fully supportive to them all at this time. I was involved in dealing with acute hospital services, disability services, Independent advocacy services, family and legal team and became an advocate for ensuring this patient was cared for appropriately within acute hospital services.  I have developed my skills in relation to ‘compassionate’ leadership, keeping calm under pressurising circumstances and maintaining my professionalism whilst fulfilling my day to day role.

    This pandemic has most definitely changed the way I work as a nurse. It has strengthened my dedication and commitment to ensuring people with a learning disability health needs are met safe and effectively. It has reinforced my leadership abilities and has made me more pro-active in reflecting on previous practice, negotiating and adapting and learning from experiences. It has also allowed me to see true leadership in action, and this is something I aspire to be.

    I have been privileged to work alongside amazing colleagues, fellow nurses, SLTs, OTs, Consultants, social workers and Physios who all have played vital roles in supporting our service users during this challenging and pressurised time. And whilst we continue to respond to COVID-19 in the months ahead I look forward to continuing to rise to the challenge.