Artists' Books - Moral Compass
These books were created in response to the outrage levelled at nurses and the nursing profession following the publication of the Francis report that investigated the delivery of poor care at Stafford Hospital.
Accusations have been thrown at a profession once highly regarded with many commentators taking it upon themselves to suggest that the move into Higher Education in 1995 lies behind the demise in standards and the moral fibre of how nursing care is delivered. As someone who has worked in Higher Education since 1996 and thus my academic career has been alongside these developments I have taken many of these criticisms personally. Very little has been said about Nurse educators/Academics in the discussion but the inference is that we are not doing a very good job of making sure nurses are caring, compassionate and competent. The reason I moved from clinical practice to education was a belief that I could have more influence of the way care was delivered by encouraging reflective practice and learning from the students with whom I came into contact.
If standards have slipped in nursing in relation to how we respond to vulnerable people in their time of need then it is most likely a reflection of a problem in wider society.
My first response was to wallow in the iniquity of it all and that nurse educators do not seem to have a voice in the debate, are rarely seen in the media and although crucial to the preparation of student nurses are invisible in the debates.
Fortunately with my Art Practice I found a way of expressing myself. The request to participate in The Late Shows at The Lit & Phil in Newcastle provided me with an answer and has given me an opportunity to be more constructive and creative in my response to this issue.
The creation of these small books has provided me with a way of expressing my standards and values in general and states them clearly and unequivocally for others to view.
The impetus for these books originates in a lesson I delivered with students influenced by Theresa Easton's work with folded books. Senior practitioners in health care, when invited to create a small book of values and beliefs about their practice, responded with enthusiasm, skill and commitment. This has led me to believe that this medium is an accessible and powerful way of people expressing and remembering their Moral Compass in practice. This is why I also offer passersby to add to this and create their own Moral Compass on an artist’s book to take with them as talisman that contains those ideals in and they can hold on to in everyday life.