I recently attended my first conference since becoming the editor of Independent Nurse: the annual QNI conference, entitled 'Healthcare at Home'. At the beginning of the day I had a theoretical understanding of how nurses work in the community setting. By the time I left, this had become a deeper understanding of the day-to-day work and motivations of community nurses, where they sit in the NHS and how the care delivered by the service might look in the future.
Some of the speakers were not only informative but inspirational. I found Eileen Sill's presentation on how Guy's and St Thomas' Foundation Trust managed the integration of the community team and the hospital service particularly engaging, and enjoyed her openness about how little she understood of nursing outside the hospital until she began accompanying nurses to patients' homes. While Rob Webster, chief executive of Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, convinced me innovative thinking would determine the future of NHS care.
By the conference's close there was a palpable energy and hope for the future among delegates. As though their moment had come. Kate Billingham, Chair of Council, summed it up well by saying 'Something's changed'.
Half of the delegates attended the conference by watching live online - a fantastic facility for those far away from the venue or too busy to leave work for a whole day. But I wondered whether they had experienced the spirit of the day and whether they felt as buoyed as those in the room. One of the most important aspects of a good conference is the collective atmosphere and the boost members of a profession can give each other when they come together. I certainly felt it.
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