Sandra Lako on the nurses’ workshop in Freetown.

Sandra LakoRecently the Welbodi Partnership was privileged to have a paediatric nurse from the United Kingdom volunteering at the children’s hospital for two months. The volunteer nurse spent the first month assessing the nurses on the wards and working alongside them in a mentorship capacity. This provided an opportunity to work with the Sierra Leonean nurses one-on-one and transfer knowledge and skills to them individually. As the days went by it was clear that a number of key areas of nursing needed to be addressed in a collective manner.

nurses workshopA four day workshop was organised by the paediatric nurse trainer for all of the nurses at the  hospital to attend. The nurses were split into four groups and each group attended a full day of the workshop. The nurse trainer, a professor in paediatrics and trainers from the School of Nursing taught on various topics including professionalism and the responsibilities of a nurse, monitoring vital signs, oxygen therapy, medication safety, fluid balance, and documentation. There were lectures, interactive group sessions, live demonstrations, and case scenario presentations. The workshop also included a lovely lunch prepared by the hospital kitchen and soft drinks; both are definite musts for a successful Sierra Leonean workshop.

In total, 81 nurses were present at the workshop and they found it to be very educational. They were eager to learn and requested for more workshops in the future. They were given the opportunity to say what they felt was keeping them from being able to perform to their best abilities. They gave many suggestions and ideas as to how the hospital could help their performance as well as ideas on what they themselves can do to function better. The Welbodi Partnership will do its best to accommodate some of their suggestions in order to improve the quality of paediatric care. Some examples are the provision of basic equipment such as thermometers and glucometer strips, provision of consumables such as soap and gloves, improving nurse attendance on the wards, and more in-service training.

Welbodi’s next step is to measure the impact of the workshop and follow-up on the implementation of what was taught. The nurse trainer will spend time on each of the wards to ensure that the nurses are monitoring patients as discussed and documenting all of their actions. Welbodi will also adapt its existing ward bonus scheme to include checking up on the issues taught in the workshop. Hopefully the workshop has brought about a desire for change and the nurses will work towards providing excellent care for their patients.

Sandra Lako is a doctor from the Netherlands who previously spent 4 ½ years in Sierra Leone setting up and managing a pediatric outpatient clinic with an organisation called Mercy Ships. After a year at home, she returned to Sierra Leone to volunteer as medical coordinator with the Welbodi Partnership, a UK-based charity supporting the only government-run children’s hospital in a country where 1 in 5 children do not reach the age of five.