The Nevis Island Administration (NIA) pledged its continued support for nurses on Nevis to ensure the development of a positive practice environment.

This commitment was made by Mrs. Patsy Hanley, Advisor in the Ministry of Health, as she officially opened Nurses Week 2007 during a televised addressed on Nevis Television on Sunday May 07, 2007.

This year’s activities which are held under, the theme “Positive Practice Environments Quality Workplaces – Quality Patient Care” will conclude on May 12.

According to Mrs. Hanley a former nurse, health systems throughout the world faced increasing constraints and challenges which served to undermine the health sector but the need to strive for a positive work environment was necessary.

“Globally, the nursing workforce is in crisis and available evidence points to the unhealthy nature of work environments which weaken performance by nurses and alienate them or often drive them away from the nursing environment itself.

“However, our (nurses) theme for this year, emphasizes that positive practice environments do exist and we should strive to make such environments the norm in our society. These environments have the power to attract and keep nurses and have extremely beneficial efforts as regards [to] health service delivery, health worker performance and patient outcomes,” she said.

The Health Advisor noted that the nurse’s professional identity and the characteristics of the working environment were two considerations that would emerge if a positive environment is examined.

As professionals, Mrs. Hanley contended, nurses needed a practice environment which affirmed their commitment to a holistic philosophy of care and the policy structure within which they operated and should recognize the importance of education, team work, ongoing learning and the encouragement given to nurses to be creative and innovative.

She believed that once the needs and goals of nurses were met, it would mean an improved quality in the workplace and improved patient care.

Notwithstanding, Mrs. Hanley said once the aim was to operate within a quality framework, positive practice environments should reflect certain characteristics.

She listed the absence of work pressures; job security and workplace safety; good social support from colleagues and managers and access to education and professional development opportunities; meaningful work; a high level of autonomy and leadership and a balance between effort and reward in terms of remuneration or other means of recognition, as necessary characteristics in a successful work environment.

Meantime, Mrs. Hanley said the Ministry of Health was aware of the shortage of nurses and assured them that the Ministry continued to try its best to arrest the situation.

She said in the meantime, the Ministry recognized and saluted its health professionals for the tremendous work they had done under less than ideal situations and noted that their recent recognition on World Health Day in April, was just the beginning of the NIA’s show of appreciation to the nurses and others who worked in the health care service on the island.