by Tom Delahunt (the #hobopoet)

In the hushed corridors of hospitals, where the scent of antiseptic mingles with the weight of weary souls, we find whispers of resilience and compassion. It is here, in these quiet spaces, that the true essence of nursing comes alive. Heather Cobb, a remarkable colleague and the manager of the Creative Innovation Hub, shared a deeply moving response to my recent blog, “Nursing Through the Looking Glass: A Chaotic Odyssey of Creativity, Rebellion, and the Queen of Hearts.” Her words reverberate with the notion that nurses are “enough,” even as they navigate a system that often treats them as anything but.

Heather’s journey began with a significant life event – her pregnancy.

“I’ve always been fortunate enough to be healthy, but when I was pregnant with my son a couple of years ago, I was thrust into the healthcare system. I was herded from midwife to midwife, scanned and prodded by nurse after nurse, barked at by a consultant, and sealed in a 34-degree room for 36 hours because I had COVID on the day my boy was born.

Two torches burnt bright throughout that process. One nurse took their time to explain a process, answer questions, ask permission, and show genuine kindness; and one healthcare assistant who walked into my sweltering new-mum prison and dashed straight back out again, returning with a fan, despite it being against the rules. When I passed out, she propped me up and put a cold towel on my shoulders to bring me round. She held my hand and returned me to my bed. She brought me water, cleared the blood and vomit covered bathroom, and mopped the dangerous slippery floor which had flooded from the broken shower. She was without doubt overworked and underpaid, but I shall always remember, I shall always be grateful, and I shall always wonder, can you teach such compassion? Can you learn to be kind? When there is not enough funding, not enough resources, long hours, long weeks, challenging patients, challenging colleagues, small salaries, and nowhere near enough appreciation…Who has enough patience? Who has enough energy? Who can give enough of themselves to a job in these conditions? How do you find the incredible individuals who are enough?”

Heather’s poignant reflections compel us to ponder the nature of compassion and the innate human capacity for kindness. Can such qualities be taught, or are they intrinsic to the human spirit? In the face of systemic challenges—underfunding, inadequate resources, long hours, and insufficient appreciation—how do individuals muster the patience, energy, and love required to be “enough”?

My PHD theme of Love;

As I immerse myself in producing my next book with Gost Books, these questions resonate deeply. This project is more than a labor of love; it is a tribute to the nursing profession and an exploration of the complexities and beauty within it. You can follow the journey and find updates on Gost Books’ Instagram.

The juxtaposition of nurses being inherently “enough” against the backdrop of societal and political neglect is stark. Despite their unwavering dedication, nurses often face a barrage of external pressures that undermine their ability to provide care. This discordance is not just a professional issue but a moral one, challenging us to rethink how we value and support these incredible individuals.

In my work, I strive to advocate for psychological safety in both education and healthcare. This concept goes beyond mere physical safety, encompassing the emotional and mental well-being of individuals within these systems. Psychological safety means creating environments where people feel valued, respected, and empowered to express themselves without fear of retribution. It is about fostering spaces where compassion is not just encouraged but ingrained in the very fabric of the institution.

Heather Cobb and the Creative Innovation Hub have been immensely supportive of my endeavors. Their dedication to nurturing creativity and innovation has been invaluable, not just for my professional growth but also for personal projects like my children’s book, The Wandering Lamb. You can find it on Canterbury’s Bookshop and watch an interactive reading on YouTube. These initiatives underscore the importance of a supportive community, one that believes in the power of storytelling and the arts to effect change.

As I delve into Rick Rubin’s The Creative Act: A Way of Being, I am reminded of the profound impact that creativity has on our lives. Rubin’s insights into the creative process resonate with my mission to highlight the stories of those who embody compassion and resilience. Creativity, much like nursing, demands a deep well of empathy and a commitment to bettering the world around us.

Nurses are more than enough. They are the heart and soul of our healthcare system, often giving more than they receive. As we honour their contributions, we must also advocate for the changes needed to support them fully. It is time for society and policymakers to recognize that the way we treat our nurses is enough—enough neglect, enough underfunding, enough systemic failures. Let us strive for a future where their compassion is met with the support and respect they deserve.

The narrative of nurses being “enough” is one of profound significance. It is a call to action, a plea for acknowledgment, and a testament to the extraordinary individuals who dedicate their lives to caring for others. As we move forward, let us carry with us the lessons learned from Heather’s story and the countless untold stories of compassion and resilience. Let us build a world where psychological safety is not a luxury but a fundamental right, where every nurse, every healthcare worker, and every individual is truly seen, heard, and valued.

Share this page: