Loud in Liverpool

Nursing support workers were a key part of the action at RCN Congress

There was a time when we were seen but not heard. That time is not now. In 2019 we’re here as support workers and we're here to use our voices
Kevin Morley, Northern representative on the RCN Nursing Support Workers Committee

Support workers were among the thousands of nursing staff who came to Liverpool to make their voices heard at RCN Congress.

RCN Congress 2019 logo

Hundreds of members visited the support worker stand which had a prime position immediately outside the debating hall. There, members of the RCN's Nursing Support Worker Committee explained the key work they're involved in and encouraged people to tell their workplaces that nursing support workers are welcomed and encouraged to join the College.

Some had fun spreading the message on Instagram too.

Taking a photograph using an instagram frame

Support workers led work on many pertinent issues discussed during the week.

On HCA Day they hosted workshops on diabetes, suicide awareness and gang violence. Their event on sepsis was packed as the RCN's professional lead for acute care, Suman Shrestha, talked about how heath care support workers are on the front line of spotting the signs of sepsis. 

The following day delegates heard from quadruple amputee Tom Ray who gave a speech about the impact sepsis had on him and how he developed resilience to overcome its devastating effects. Sepsis was also debated in a resolution that afternoon.

‘You make a difference'

Support workers also met at a social event where their contribution to nursing was celebrated.

“You play a vital role,” said BJ Waltho, Chair of RCN Congress. “You’re the closest to patients and you provide fundamental aspects of care.”

BJ said many students learn so much from nursing assistants because those in the role  have often been there the longest. “You’re the steady person. We could never do our jobs without you,” she added.

Lindsay, Dame Donna, Maive and Annette

Lindsay Cardwell, Chair of the RCN Nursing Support Workers Committee, (pictured above left) said she was over the moon with the way HCA Day went. “It was amazing,” she said. ”We’ve had positive feedback from members, but we already have plans to make next year even better.”  

Getting involved in the debate

There was an action-packed debating programme which nursing support workers got involved in too.

Speaking in the debate on period poverty, HCA Kelly Ferranti (pictured below) was clear in her views.

“Periods are a totally normal part of life and the mindset around them really needs to change,” she said. “Sanitary wear is not a luxury item. We’re being taxed on having a uterus and it needs to end.”

Kelly Ferranti

Following an emotional debate on bullying, Council Member Evan Keir recommended the RCN’s welfare service to members. “When I needed that service, it was there,” he said.

Name change

At the RCN’s Annual General Meeting, members voted to change the name of the health practitioner member category to the nursing support workers category. The name of the RCN Health Practitioners Committee was also changed to the Nursing Support Workers Committee. 

Members supported the special resolution as they said the new name reflects the members the RCN represents more accurately.

Lindsay Cardwell said: “The RCN welcomes the whole nursing team into membership and by changing the name I hope everyone will now have a clearer understanding of who membership is open to.”

Further information

Fancy giving it a go next year? Register for Congress 2020 now.

Read more about RCN Congress 2019. 

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