Kiwi connection to new poem by UK nurse-poet star

20 March 2017

A special nursing poem on valuing the time of elderly patients – launched last week at England's Chief Nursing Officer's annual summit – has a Kiwi connection.

Professor Jane Cumming, the chief nursing officer for England commissioned the poem from young nurse and poet Molly Case. The topic of Case's latest poem was The Last 1000 days – a concept developed by nurse Brian Dolan who is the Director of Service Improvement at Canterbury District Health Board but also works extensively in the UK as a consultant and visiting professor of nursing for a nursing research institute. 

The idea behind The Last 1000 Days is that many of the people being cared for in developed country's health systems are older people in their last 1000 days and that systems should work to free up nursing and clinicians time to focus on helping older patients get the most quality time possible out of those last days.

Dolan told Nursing Review this month that he had worked with Case over several months as she wrote the poem that was launched at the summit last week in front of around 500 nursing, research, patient and health professional representatives. The poem tells the story of a fictional patient staring at the hospital walls as the days 'blur into one' until her nurse introduces herself and says together she and the staff are going to 'get her home soon':

We'll get this referral sped up, the results of the scan on the way

So you don't have to waste any more time sitting here today.

These days are yours that we must help look after

Lets see if we can get your medication order just a little bit faster…

The NHS commissioned poem also includes a video which has been released on youtube. Dolan says that every day a person spends in hospital more than is actually needed is stealing their time and one of the slogans for the campaign is: "If you had 1000 days left to live how many would you choose to spend in hospital?". 

In 2013 Case, then a 2nd year nursing student, received a standing ovation at the Royal College of Nursing congress after performing her poem Nursing the Nation which was a passionate and compassionate defence of nursing and the NHS.  Her performance has received nearly 400,000 views and Case, now a cardiac nurse at London's King's College Hospital, is still a performance poet who has performed across Europe and at Glastonbury Festival.

Case's long-term aim is to get poetry into more English hospitals by setting up a team of volunteer poets to provide bedside workshops for peope who may not have thought about writing before.





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