Sunday 25 February 2024
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Nottinghamshire nurse and granddaughter’s book goes national to challenge nursing stereotypes

A book written by a Nottinghamshire schoolgirl and her grandma – a nurse – is to be distributed to children across England as part of an initiative to promote nursing and midwifery as a career.

Ella’s Grandpa goes Hippity Hop! aims to better reflect the diverse and varied roles that make up a nursing team in today’s health and social care. It demonstrates the versatility, broad scope, and endless opportunities that lie within a career of nursing and midwifery.

Written by Louise Kirk and granddaughter Ella Sharpe, Ella’s Grandpa goes Hippity Hop! was hatched in a “hackathon” in 2019 organised by Lucy Gillespie, former Project Development Lead at NUH’s Institute of Nursing and Midwifery, as part of a Nursing Now Challenge.

Growing the NHS nursing workforce is a national priority, with potential for careers in roles that take in science, technology and innovation, leadership, management, and collaboration. NHS England also recognises that its workforce needs to reflect the diversity of the population it serves.

Ask most young people what a nurse does and they will have an idea; most will not realise the variety of roles available, or the flexibility and opportunities for career progression that nursing allows.

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“Most children’s books depict a nurse as a doctor’s helper and not the strong, diverse profession that we are,” said Dr Louise Bramley, Assistant Director of Nursing at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust.

The NHS NextGen Nurse programme aims to address these gaps and/or misconceptions by providing educators with a selection of easy and accessible options for free online work experiences that can expand students’ knowledge and understanding of careers in nursing.

As part of the Hackathon, an expert panel, including children’s author Jonathan Emmett, children and nurses, chose Ella’s Grandpa goes Hippity Hop! from 11 strong submissions.

The NUH team then worked with Dr Sarah McConnell, course leader in MA Illustration at Nottingham Trent University, to draw up a creative brief.

Sarah added: “The idea of a brief celebrating the essential and amazing work done by nurses was something we really wanted to be part of.

“It turned out that we would be working together through the pandemic, an incredibly challenging period for all of us but in particular for the NHS. There couldn’t be a better time to celebrate the important work that nurses do.

“The project was a natural fit for our MA illustrators and BA graphic designers. We were so excited when the Institute approached us. Louise, Lucy and Louise were fantastic to work with; they were open to our ideas and together we created the brief that would capture what the book was about.”

The students had to creatively interpret the brief – and Elizabeth Haynes’ design wowed the judging panel.

Jonathan Emmett said: “I was lucky enough to read an early draft of Ella’s Grandpa goes Hippitty Hop! and I’m delighted to see that it is now a finished book.

“Every day hundreds of thousands of nurses do invaluable work across the NHS. It’s great to see them being celebrated in this book and I hope Ella’s story will inspire many young readers to pursue a career in nursing.”

The team from NUH went to NTU to judge the entries, choosing Elizabeth’s concept from a really strong field.

“Elizabeth’s design was a visual feast that depicted a wonderful cast of animal characters using bright, bold colours,” said Sarah. “She received tutorship and industry advice from publishers to help make her book professional and contemporary – she is a talented illustrator and her work was a clear winner.”

Elizabeth, now studying a Masters in Illustration at NTU, said: “This project was my favourite final-year university project – I really enjoyed the whole process.”

Ella was nine when she wrote the story and is now 13 and in secondary school.

She said: “I hope children enjoy reading Ella’s Grandpa goes Hippity Hop! as much as my Nanna and I had creating it. My little brother, Jaxon, who’s seven, has really enjoyed reading it and given the thumbs up!”

Louise is Lead Nurse for Education and Practice Development and couldn’t be prouder of Ella.

She said: “Ella and I worked closely together to develop the story. Ella created the park location, including eating ice cream and some of the narratives. We had a lot of fun creating the story and hope children will enjoy reading it. We are delighted to finally see the printed version after many delays.

Ella’s Grandpa goes Hippity Hop is a story about Ella not being sure what she would like to be when she grows up. After Grandpa’s accident, Ella meets lots of nurses in different roles, and is amazed at how many different types of nurses there are. As a result, Ella decides she’d like to be a nurse like Robin, who took good care of Grandpa.

“I hope that when parents/grandchildren/siblings read this book, it inspires young minds to think about nursing as a career.”

The publication of the book has been supported by NHS England’s NextGen Nurse Programme. Paul Vaughan, Deputy Director, Primary Care Nursing and NextGen Nurse, said: “This is a wonderful resource for nurse ambassadors to use when going into schools to encourage young people to take up a career in nursing.”

Michelle Rhodes, Chief Nurse at NUH, said: “It’s fantastic to see Louise and Ella’s story brought to life by Elizabeth’s illustrations, and it’s great that chief nurses across England will be sending out copies of the book to care settings and schools.

“Nursing as a profession has come a long way. Modern nurses have the kind of autonomy in their role that would have been unrecognisable in the 1950s, constantly making decisions, gathering data, making medical assessments and prescribing drugs. This has changed the profile of nursing – there is a huge range of different roles nowadays and hopefully reading this book will plant a seed in someone’s mind about becoming a nurse in the future.

“I knew from a very early age I wanted to be a nurse and that was because my mum was a paediatric nurse and she was my absolute hero.” Michelle added.

“I used to go to meet her from work with my dad and if she was working at Christmas we would go to the children’s ward and wrap presents and help decorate the tree. It was very special for me and from that point I knew it was what I would do and I have never regretted it – being a nurse is an absolute privilege.”

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