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An interview with Germany's Sonja Meyers

What sparked your interest in nursing studies?

The realization of being able to help other people and at the same time my own family, relatives and friends did spark my interest for nursing and nursing science. I was able to see how deep burns heal in a short time through wound care, or how people can be helped in emergency situations. And that doesn't have to be resuscitation, it can also be the person with dementia who stands outside in a T-shirt when it's below zero and can't find their way home on their own. How you help people and do it efficiently is what distinguishes care for me.

Tell us about your specialization? Do you have hopes for specialization? What specialization are you completing at university now and how do you hope to use your education?

During my training, I specialized in the field of geriatrics, i.e. the care of older people. I then completed a crash course in intensive care and continued my education in dementia research, neurology and psychology. I recently participated in a study called “Pepa” to reduce hospitalizations through targeted and efficient care in aged care settings. Hospital stays are a major challenge, especially for people with dementia and for older people in general. Delirium often develops in the hospital and the person with dementia may have to be restrained, as he can react negatively and aggressively to situational disorientation out of fear due to changed daily routines and changed surroundings. This, in turn, often leads to trauma, which also has a negative effect on the elderly, the former patient, even after the hospital stay similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. That's a shame and I see a lot of development potential here through the study and further training.

Is there something unique about nursing in your country that you can share?

I think that in Germany and especially at the University of Lübeck, research is currently being carried out efficiently and more intensively, so that studies and further training courses such as “Pepa” can be launched. On the other hand the German bureaucracy, legal situation and financial resources of nursing homes and hospitals have so far unfortunately blocked the spread of dementia-friendly wards and nursing homes according to Silviahemmet. This is where German politics trip itself up, because nursing requires exactly this knowledge for the staff and orientation options in nursing practice in order to provide nursing staff and residents with contemporary and fair care. Especially with a view to the ICN, which states, among other things, that we as caregivers should respect and appreciate the values, customs and needs of the resident/patient and also protect our own well-being. Only the St. Anna-Stift Kroge nursing home is a pioneer here. I hope german politics are learning from the actual situation, also to prevent staff from fleeing nursing homes. The staff often goes from mental and physical overload, which could certainly be prevented in the future through appreciation and calm, satisfied residents. I believe that those who are currently working in geriatric care in Germany are those with a lot of love and passion for the profession and that is what makes it special in Germany: love of doing care.

Summarize your winning idea in a sentence and please let us know why you think this is important to share with the international nursing community? Will you be bringing your winning idea further, i.e. to market or to development?

It is a kind of toiletry bag in which everything that the resident with dementia needs in the hospital is permanently contained in an emergency - from hearing aids to visual aids to the allergy card. In the hospital, patients with dementia often do not like to eat and/or speak because their dentures are missing. You cannot answer questions if the hearing aid is not packed. They cannot find their way to the toilet without visual aids - which promotes anxiety and incontinence, especially in the case of unsteady gait, since the patient does not dare to get up.

My idea is currently in the development phase, after which I am planning a pilot study with several care facilities and also an outpatient service, such as hospitals. Building on this, I would like to permanently establish my idea with the patient in order to relieve the caregiver, but also to permanently increase the well-being of the resident with dementia, as far as hospital stays and emergencies are concerned. It's a long way to get there, because I'm a nurse, but not yet a specialist in marketing and founding a company. I am working on the latter, the QSNA partners, judges and former winners are actively supporting me - I am very grateful for that.

What is your advice to nursing students who are just entering their studies / nurses who are just entering the industry?

Be curious, discover all departments, be authentic and stay tuned! The longer you go with it, the more perspectives and insights you will take away with you. And don't forget the humor, without laughter the day is lost.


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